Land Ho! is an indie comedy written and directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz. It stars Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhorn as Mitch and Colin, respectively. They are both older men, and former brothers-in-law. Mitch decides that Colin has been acting too gloomy lately and needs to be cheered up, so he surprises Colin with a surprise trip to Iceland. The film follows them on their vacation and their misadventures through geothermal spas, trendy nightclubs, and the Icelandic wilderness.
This quirky comedy reminds us that there is life after the age of 35. Too often, Hollywood movies will be full to the brim with young actors who look like they just walked out of a fashion magazine, with perpetually white teeth and artificially created faces. Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhorn are pleasantly ordinary looking and sounding. They both do a great job, with Nelson playing the role of the dirty old grandpa and Eenhorn as the straight man, dry-wit Australian. And both of them are full, rounded characters. Yes, they both grapple with their age, but neither of them is defined by their age.
The film’s humor is similarly realistic. Things as simple as Mitch and Colin giving their differing interpretations of modern art at a museum provide witty and subtle comedy. Much of the film’s humor comes from the chemistry between Nelson and Eenhorn, and they play of each other wonderfully. Their individual reactions to getting lost after dark far from their remote hotel are both humorous and interesting insights into their characters. Their differing reactions to their old age and how they interact with younger people is similarly both humorous and illuminating of them as people. This is one of the few comedy films where the on-screen characters are more than just a delivery service for punchlines.
Finally, the cinematography is gorgeous. The film includes many stunning shots of the barren but beautiful Icelandic countryside, geothermal springs, and other scenic locations. Rarely does one end up gazing at the scenery in awe in a comedy movie, but it and helps to give it heart and character. This by no means the film is boring in anyway (I was laughing through the whole thing), but it never hurts to have a little variety.
So, if you’re looking for a laugh this weekend, you could go to the theatre and see an ordinary comedy film with endless pop-culture references and a barrage of dick jokes. Alternatively, you can go to the Kendall Square Cinema and see something that is a little less mainstream, a little more subtle, and that has a lot more heart.