I love Aaron Katz’s movies. The simplest descriptor of the types of movies he makes is on the surface, they’re not about anything, focusing on the idiosyncrasies of day-to-day life. However, I always come away with a small profound emotion about what I just saw (not in pretentious way like the last two Terrence Malick movies). Katz’s latest film Land Ho!, who he co-wrote and co-directed the film with Martha Stephens, is an absolute joy. A quick aside: I haven’t seen any of Stephens’ films, but I want to.
This is the first time Katz has written/directed a comedic film. Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn are the two leads and they are both hilarious. They’re an odd couple. Mitch (Nelson’s character) is a boisterous, foul mouthed ,charismatic recently retired surgeon. He takes his brother in-law Colin (Eenhoorn’s character) on a trip to Iceland. Colin, an ex French Horn player and retired banker, is very measured when meeting new people, but once gets to know you will let down his guard and will be very playful.
When they get to Iceland they stay in the city and travel more and more to remote areas of the country. I challenge anyone to see this film and not want to go Iceland afterward. The hikes they go on are breathtaking. As I watched the movie I constantly looked at my dog and thought how awesome it would be if we were there tomorrow.
This is a road trip movie, but it’s not formulaic. I loved the counter play between Colin and Mitch as well as the irony of using foul mouthed jokes behind the beautiful Icelantic landscape. There are no major long lasting revelations by any of the characters, which is true with any trip. However, each character learns something from the trip, but the most important thing is they will have a better and stronger friendship after the trip, which I believe is the best part of any road trip. This movie is a must watch; I give it my highest rating.