The Best Two Years

"Very Good"

The Best Two Years Review


Cineastes, take note. There's an awful lot of independent film coming out of one place in America: Salt Lake City. As you might expect, all of these films are made by Mormons, about Mormonism. I think it may be a way to do missionary work without having to move someplace inhospitable.

Regardless, these films tend to have one thing in common: the plot. In fact, you can almost say that if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. God's Army, the king daddy of all Mo-flicks, has become an archetype for the genre, which generally comprises a bunch of Mormon missionaries (called Elders) living in cramped, frat-boy-style conditions in a place far from home, each overcoming personal obstacles as they try to find converts.

The Best Two Years takes this scenario to The Netherlands, where a gang of four Americans stumble through language barriers, lust for girls back home, anti-Mormon sentiment, and personal apathy for the task.

Imagine my surprise on numerous fronts when faced with this film. First off, these guys are all pretty good actors, a crushing departure from the stilted dialogue common in this budding genre. All unknowns, every one of them has a knack with dialogue and manages to generate a truly compelling character that continues to grow over the course of the movie. Most fun is Kirby Heyborne as a vaguely southern yokel obsessed with spreading the word; the other three fellows each face varying degrees of jadedness with the missionary process, which can be alternately humiliating, grueling, and pointless. Scraping bottom is K.C. Clyde (the only Hollywood actor in the film, if you can call appearances in films like Firestarter 2 "Hollywood"), who's become so jaded he doesn't even bother trying to make converts any more, preferring instead to take pictures of flowers.

Well-paced and often funny, this is the rare Mormon movie that isn't afraid to make a little fun of itself -- especially Heyborne, whose precociousness made me laugh out loud more than once. The basic plot ("get more converts!") is awfully familiar and the strongarm tactics that come out in the end are ultimately uninspiring -- especially if you don't agree with Mormon doctrine -- but director Scott S. Anderson manages to transcend this more often than not. He also manages to produce a real movie with real production values -- lighting, sound, and editing are all top notch, yet this is Anderson's first feature. Well done.

If you see one Mormon movie in your life (and really, to expose yourself to a different point of view, you ought to see one), this is the one to see.

23 months to go.



The Best Two Years

Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th February 2004

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $1.2M

Budget: $400 thousand

Distributed by: Halestorm Entertainment

Production compaines: Halestorm entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Scott S. Anderson

Producer: Scott S. Anderson

Starring: K.C. Clyde as Elder John Rogers, as Elder Hezekiah Calhoun, as Elder Steven Van Pelt, as Elder Emmit Johnson, Scott Christopher as Kyle Harrison, as President Sandburg, Ineke den Hollander as Woman on Train, Jaime Anderson as Elder Van Pelt's Girlfriend, Andrea Anderson as Elder Van Pelt's Girlfriend

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