Labor Day is just around the corner, but there's still time to squeeze in a vacation. Land Ho! invites you to join a couple of old friends on a road trip through beautiful Iceland. The scenery is gorgeous, the mood is upbeat and your traveling companions are interesting fellows.
The big revelation about the film is that it has no big revelations. Late in the proceedings one of the main characters reveals a fact about his life that may alter your perception of him, but it doesn't qualify as a big revelation. The bottom line is that the film barely has a plot, and in this case that's a good thing. During the press screening, I caught myself tensing up as I waited for the inevitable MAJOR DRAMATIC MOMENT to occur. But it never did. The filmmakers had the nerve to let the movie just happen.
Road trip movies work if the characters work, but filmmakers usually feel compelled to slather some plot line onto the travels. One of the characters has a fatal illness. One of the characters is being chased by the mob. One of the characters zzzzzz...
Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz wrote and directed the film. Kudos to them for realizing that engaging characters, visually arresting locations and a few groovy tunes (hey, it's Big Country!) would be enough for a good time.
Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) and Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) are retirees, longtime friends and former brothers-in-law. Both of them are single now. Colin's wife died and Mitch's spouse divorced him. The estranged friends meet up at Mitch's Kentucky home and before you know it, Mitch has convinced Colin to join him on a trip to Iceland. The agenda? Good times.
Paul Eenhoorn is a respected independent film actor from Australia. His character Colin is reserved and well-mannered without being fussy about it. He's the kind of guy who is willing to join in the fun, but generally requires a little nudge first.
Mitch is the man who provides the nudge. A former doctor, he's one of those people who says whatever he wants regardless of the circumstance. If a crude, obvious sexual observation is in the air, he's the one who will voice it. Some of his remarks make others uncomfortable, maybe even annoyed, but they stick with Mitch because it's clear his intentions are positive. Oh, and he's a pothead too. Actor Earl Lynn Nelson is a surgeon in real life and Martha Stevens second cousin. He's a natural and quite a find.
Early in the trip the men spend some time with Mitch's cousin Ellen (Karrie Crouse) and her friend Janet (Elizabeth McKee, Aaron Katz's wife). The encounter doesn't feel manufactured — it's just another engaging part of the trip.
So there you go. Land Ho! doesn't feel written. It feels like it occurred and we are lucky enough to get to watch. It's a low-key delight, a little movie that doesn't aspire to hipness, as evidenced by the exclamation point in its title. What a treat.
The Expendables 3 ★★ (out of five)
Why is this thing rated PG-13? The franchise is known for bringing together aging action stars for rude talk and over-the-top action. This time the cast includes Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Can you imagine someone saying “If we go from an R to a PG-13 rating we can capture the elusive youth market!” Geez. Anyhoo, the all-star gimmick is interesting for a few minutes, but the toned down action is not so hot, the screenplay is weak and the overstuffed movie drags in spots.
Let's Be Cops ★1/2
Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson from New Girl play buddies that end up pretending to be police officers. Never mind how. Never mind why. Here's what you need to know. If seeing some guy's balls get really close to some other guy's face sounds hilarious to you, you might enjoy this R-rated comedy. Otherwise, stay as far away from this as you can. Fans of Wayans and Johnson should watch them on TV and steer clear of this disposa-movie. Really, life's too short to waste on stuff like this. I took a bullet for you by watching this. Don't let my sacrifice be in vain.