Blu-Ray Review: ‘Land Ho!’ Is An Enriching Tale of Mismatched Friendship

 

Coming out as a Blu-ray Combo Pack and on Digital HD November 4, Land Ho! centers on ex-brothers-in-law Mitch and Colin (Earl Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn) who take a spontaneous (and ultimately rejuvenating) trip to Iceland.

Mitch is a rambunctious and bawdy surgeon who’s never lacking in conversation, while Colin is much more reserved. Though Mitch’s behavior occasionally borders on abrasive, he means well, as the Icelandic journey was his way of shaking Colin out of his emotional rut.

Filmmaker Martha Stephens and Earl Lynn Nelson are cousins, and the genesis for Land Ho! came from her desire to cast Nelson in a lead role (he previously worked with her on Passenger Pigeons and Pilgrim Song) and place him somewhere that was out of his element.

As for Eenhoorn, his performance in the 2013 film This Is Martin Bonner inspired co-director Aaron Katz to cast him as Colin.

Land Ho! (Sony Pictures Classics)
Earl Lynn Nelson – Land Ho! (Sony Pictures Classics)

Land Ho!, which features a wonderful 1980s inspired score for Keegan DeWitt and provides beautiful, breathtaking shots of Iceland, is an inspired, bawdy, and altogether resonant look at two buddies who are having the time of their lives. It’s one of this year’s most pleasant cinematic surprises, and it’s definitely worth a look if you love road trip type features.

Land Ho! Special Features:

1. Deleted Scenes (12:18)

  • “At The Club” is an extended nightclub sequence featuring Eenhorn, Nelson, and co-stars Elizabeth McKee and Karrie Krouse.
  • “Balls” contains several cuts of Earl Lynn Nelson walking into a hotel room and exclaiming “balls.” “
  • Ghost Job” has Colin recounting a sexual experience he had with a ghost (hence the scene’s moniker).
  • Alternate Intro – The original title sequence of the film, which was originally named Lay of the Land. 

2. Los Angeles Film Festival Q&A w/ Earl Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn, Martha Stephens, Aaron Katz, and Elizabeth McKee (13:27) – The filmmakers and actors talk about shooting in Iceland for a huge portion of the Q&A, but the most memorable part of the session had nothing to do with filmmaking.  Earl Lynn Nelson, who refreshingly doesn’t hold back his thoughts, told the audience that, even at 72, he’s still a vital man, humorously adding that his “stinger” is still working.

During the Q&A, Earl Lynn Nelson explained why Land Ho! contains a relatable theme:

“I don’t know why people are (pigeonholing) this as an old people’s movie when this is a movie for everybody. You’re taking your life and going on with it. Live every day, because guess what, tomorrow might never come. And that’s my philosophy, and that’s the way I am, and that’s the way I live.”

3. Commentary with Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson, Martha Stephens, and Aaron Katz – One interesting tidbit from the commentary is learning that the film, though mainly shot with two Red One cameras, also featured sequences shot with a DSLR camera (Canon 5D).

Land Ho! - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Land Ho! – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

 

During my interview with Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, the filmmakers talked about the universality of Land Ho!: 

Charming “Land Ho!” Travels To Blu-ray in November

Land Ho! is one of my favorite films this year, as it’s bolstered by two wonderful performances by Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson as two retired ex-brothers-in-law who take a spontaneous trip to Iceland.

The film, which hits Blu-ray and Digital HD via Sony Pictures Classics and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on November 4, has received its share of critical acclaim. Although it didn’t do great business when it hit theaters, this cinematic charmer should reach a much wider audience in the coming months.

Special features included audio commentary from Eenhoorn, Lynn Nelson, and co-directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, deleted scenes, and a Q&A from the LA Film Festival.

Land Ho! (Sony PIctures Classics)
Land Ho! (Sony PIctures Classics, Photo by: Andrew Reed)

Along with its inspired and charming performances, Land Ho! is also a visual feast, as Katz and Stephens made the best of their scenic surroundings. I interviewed the filmmakers several months ago, and they talked about collaborating with cinematographer Andrew Reed on the project.

Clocking in at 95 minutes, Land Ho! is worth a look if you love “road trip” driven films that’s filled with wonderful dialogue and sumptuous backdrops. The score, composed by Keegan Dewitt, is catchy as can be:

If my video interview & the wonderful score doesn’t pull you in, try the trailer:

 

LandHo2

Land Ho! Is A Visually Arresting Love Letter To Iceland

Written and directed by Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, Land Ho! centers on two sixtysomethings (Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson) who set off to Iceland for a bit of bonding and unadulterated fun. Whether it’s partying at a Reykjavik nightclub or traversing the country’s primeval terrain, Mitch (Nelson) and Colin (Eenhoorn) are surrounded by beauty.

For Nelson, taking part in Land Ho! was a family affair. “They wrote the script after they picked us to be (in the film),” said Nelson. “It wasn’t the other way (around). Martha’s mother and I are first cousins. She knows that I’ve been a scoundrel my whole life. She just called me up and asked if I’d want to go to Iceland for a month. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go.’ They got Paul (Eenhoorn), and they threw me and Paul together the first weekend. When you see us and I’m vacuuming, that was the first scene in Kentucky.”

Paul Eenhoorn in Land Ho! (Sony Pictures Classics, CR: Andrew Reed)

Although the opening moment is set in Kentucky, the rest of the 95-minute narrative dives into an entirely different world. Iceland is essentially another character in the drama, and the filmmakers didn’t let a low budget hamper the film’s arresting visual style. Part of that credit goes to their collaboration with cinematographer Andrew Reed, who used two RED cameras during the production. In the following interview, Katz and Stephens talked about their close knit collaboration with Reed and why having more than one set of eyes behind the camera was a creative boon for the film.

Land Ho! opens in New York and Los Angeles today.

Land Ho! Lives Hard And Plays Hard With Earl Lynn Nelson

On the surface, Land Ho! centers on a couple of sixty-something guys (Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson) who are trying to recapture their youth. Even if their salad days are behind them, they still have their share of fun (and unexpected moments) amidst Iceland’s beautiful landscapes.

While Colin (Eenhoorn) is reserved and laid back, ex-brother-in-law Mitch (Nelson), is a rowdy, straight talking extrovert. This opposites attract dynamic is one of the many reasons Land Ho! succeeds, and it’s their open approach to life which gives the film a refreshing level of resonance.

Paul Eenhoorn & Earl Lynn Nelson – Land Ho! (Sony Pictures Classics)

Shot in just 18 days, the film was written and directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz. Earl Lynn, Stephens’ second cousin, acted in her previous films Passenger Pigeons and Pilgrim Song. Since he has an effusive and larger than life personality off screen, Earl Lynn is also natural scene stealer. To his credit, Eenhoorn is more than fine playing the straight man role, as Colin’s continuing exasperation over Mitch’s antics also reap comedic dividends.

In real life, Earl Lynn’s contains the same exuberance as Mitch, and it’s a shared passion comes from the realization that we all live on borrowed time.

“I love life,” said Earl Lynn who, along with being an actor, is also an oculoplastic surgeon. “I know that my experience with death – I spent four years, three months, and thirteen days in Vietnam. I found both of my parents dead, and tomorrow I could be dead. So I squeeze life for every nickel that I can get out of it every day. I work hard and I play hard.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Earl Lynn discuss the universality of Land Ho! and why it’s had such a strong emotional impact on moviegoers.