How to convey the magic of this oldsters-unbound comedy without making it sound like The Bucket List? The premise is an eye-roller: Two old buddies reconnect on a death-be-damned Range Rover trek across mountainous Iceland. But boldness and an indie eye go a long way toward redemption.
You feel it first in the relaxed way the film lets its conversations play out—sort of like a smuttier Straight Story. Extending the trip invite, Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson), a booming, rascally Kentuckian who chafes at retirement, refuses to take no from Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), his soft-spoken former brother-in-law, still stinging from the unraveling of his second marriage. The former’s wink-nudge bluster is a salve, along with the kind of salty talk that only dads get away with. (You could call Land Ho! the ultimate dad movie.)
But it’s on the road—first in Reykjavík’s best restaurants, then in the beautifully shot countryside, where hot springs and younger eye candy await—that the duo blooms into a perfectly calibrated chuckle machine. Both actors are superb, insinuating a spirit of youth without hammering the nostalgia. Their adventures take some expected turns (hello, age-appropriate hiker), but mainly, Land Ho! avoids schmaltz to get at that rarest of male timber: rekindled hearts.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf