96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2004
Let me be the first to say that I am not a Mormon, but I found this film entertaining and informative. While The Best Two Years followed the classic Hollywood structure, it did it in such a way that built solid characters, helped progress the plot, and brought Mormonism into the spotlight without being cheap or abrupt. By this I mean this was a very solid movie. I wasn't expecting this when I first began my Mormon adventure through Holland, but by the final credits rolled I was impressed. I was educated more about the structure of the Mormon Mission in this film than any book could have taught me. I witnessed a true building of beliefs and the effects that religion has on those that are willing to accept it. I witnessed people being people and living their dreams. It was amazing, and this film only pushed me into seeing more about the Mormon faith in film.
I would like to comment first that I never realized the "business" of being a Mormon and doing one of these missions. From what I gathered from this film, they document everything and constantly need to report into a higher authority (outside of God) on how well they are progressing. I realize that there is some level of accountability that needs to be in place for those paying for these men to live in Holland, but I never realized it was similar to a business that you and I shop in daily. There are goals, rewards, and a never-ending struggle to completely satisfy everyone that you come in contact with. This was surprising for me to witness, but also helpful with setting the stage as to the strengths of our characters.
Outside of this "business" aspect, this was an amazing tale of forgiveness and dedication. I stated before that this was a solid film and a good portion of this is due in part to the reality of the characters. Each of these different men went (or are going through) situations that are not uncommon in our lives. We have all experienced the loss of a loved one to another person, we all have felt dismayed and confused about the path of life, and we have all had to deal with that new person that eventually becomes that friend you never want to let go. Add to this mix an overwhelming feeling of being in a completely different (yet beautiful) country and you have a majority of the emotions, themes, and elements used in this film. While the overall story deals around a Mormon religion, it isn't strange to begin feeling a sense of excitement for your own religion, whatever it may be. This isn't an in your face film that makes you think about becoming Mormon, but instead an opportunity (using Mormon as its foundation) for you, the viewer, to explore your options with God and your religion. If you see it as a Mormon film, and only a Mormon film, you will never see the truth behind this film. This is a film about people and the lives that we lead.
Not only did we have amazing characters and some very powerful themes, but also added to this enormous soup bowl of goodness is some of the most beautiful scenery that I have ever seen. I had never considered visiting Holland before until after I watched this film. Director Scott S. Anderson does a superb job of taking us deep into Holland and showing us the beauty that surrounds it. It only accentuates the beauty of the story that we witness in this film. He also has perfect comic timing for a director. His guidance for these characters was directly on target. I never once felt that I was watching a made-for-TV movie, but instead a film that is drenched in personal emotion. You could tell that Anderson believed in not only the film, but also his religion and experiences. This is a semi-true story based around the life that Anderson led while away on one of these missions. So, he ensures that there is not any absurd stories or actions that distract us from the main focus.
Overall, I must say I was genuinely impressed. I was not expecting anything from this film when I first begin it, but by the end I kind of wanted to watch it again. To fully enjoy this film you must realize that it is a Mormon film and if you do not perceive it as Mormon propaganda then it will impress you two. It is engulfed in the world of humans and the emotions that we face on a daily basis. It also gives us the perfect opportunity to see how one person (Kyle Harrison) can change the course of several.
Grade: **** out of *****
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2005
I had heard from a few folks that this was the best so far of the LDS films put out over the last few years -- and they were right. I finally watched the film, and I have nothing but praise for it. Well done.
Where 'God's Army' takes all of the most extreme views of LDS Missionary life, 'The Best Two Years' is very down to earth. It is both well-written and well-acted. Kirby Heyborne, who was hilarious in 'RM' and his small role in 'Singles Ward', puts in a tremendous performance as a mid-western Elder who doesn't understand the native Dutch language, but has a good strong testimony. His companion, the bitter Elder Rogers, is a great performance by KC Clyde.
The cover says its a comedy - and there are definitely some funny parts to it - but its unmistakenly a drama about Elder Rogers' search for the reasons he went on his mission.
I can't say enough good things about this movie. I have often heralded 'Other Side of Heaven' as the best Mormon flick, but that title now goes to 'The Best Two Years'. Congrats
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2005
I must say up-front: I am LDS and was a missionary in Germany in the late mid-80s. Though I live in Utah now, I did not grow up here -- I am from New England.
My wife was given this DVD for Christmas. I have seen it twice and each time was greatly moved to tears. Anyone who has been an LDS missionary can relate to the situations the people find themselves in, but what moved me was the sincerity of the American optician who gets caught up with the missionaries and his "conversion" and his recognizing the feelings he found inside himself, and, the "conversion" of Elder Rogers, who realizes what it was really all about.
The movies was well made, was funny, and I found it the best of the Halestorm LDS themed movies yet. Ones that anyone, LDS or not, could relate to and enjoy. The SIngles Ward was hilarious, and one I could greatly relate to. The Best Two Years was funny, but also much more touching and meaningful.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2004
This film is one of the better produced by Halestorm. It gives a fairly accurate portrayal of missionary life and builds the characters well. Comedy is used effectively within the simple plot. Overall enjoyable.
One thing to note is that if you are not of the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) faith, some of the material may not be familiar. For example, the previous reviewer commented that these missions are a business, which could not be further from the truth. A missionary pays his own way during the two years, receives no compensation, the "goals" and "rewards" relate to sharing the message and helping other people, and it has nothing to do with shopping. The reviewer simply misunderstood some of the content, which is understandable. The film is for entertainment and not a documentary about the religion.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2005
I am Jewish! A dear Mormon friend loaned me THE BEST TWO YEARS, she was not witnessing, but thought I would enjoy the film. I was completely surprised, moved to tears, and touched deeply by this tale of redemption.
One does not have to be LDS to appreciate these four characters, because no matter the religion, we have all felt what these beautiful young men have felt.
The film shows a dedication to a religion many think of as cult. No matter how people see the LDS church, everyone will love these four elders, and their trials, tribulations, and their eventual ephiphanies.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
First off, you do NOT have to be LDS (Mormon) in order to enjoy this movie, but having served a Mission certainly helps to make the humor a bit more enjoyable I believe. I'd go into detail about that, but you really HAVE to serve a Mission to fully appreciate a lot of the subtle (and sometimes outright) jokes.
With that said, I was pretty much giving up seeing these LDS themed films for the simple fact that they were (for the most part) becoming a serious threat to good taste...and by that I mean most of them were just boring. Sure they would have a few laughs, but man were they becoming tiresome. The Best Two Years tackles the religious theme from a totally new angle and succeeds on all levels. First off, despite how odd some of the Missionaries are portrayed, ask ANYBODY who has ever served two years and they can ALL recall at least a handful of elders who were VERY similar -- making the movie even more believable.
The setting in Holland was a surprisingly good one because it almost became the uncredited 5th character in the movie. The reality of the situation is a simple one, and I believe very much provides the drama (and the humor) of what serving a Mission is really like. We have an apartment with two sets of Missionaries, one getting ready to go home and not a moment too soon, either...one brand new and more than thrilled to be serving...one who is quite full of himself and the District Leader who for the most part is a good leader to the other 3. I saw it over and over again as Missionaries received the almost inevitable Dear John from their girlfriend back home. I don't know if there are even actual statistics regarding the girls who really wait the whole 24 months, but I'd have to say at least 65% do NOT wait...What I truly liked about this particular movie was just how honest and real the movie felt as I watched it. How one eager and excited person can jump-start another who felt his engine dry up long before the newbie even showed up. This realism made the whole experience one that really hit home as well as brought to the surface a gigantic load of previously lost memories of amazingly similar circumstances.
For those who are concerned the film is *Preachy* in an attempt to draw you into the Mormon faith, that couldn't be further from the truth. While I WILL say a rather large chunk of the movie simply will not make sense if you are not a member of the LDS religion, you don't HAVE to be a member in order to appreciate fine movie-making. Even though the movie is fictional, it was as true-to-life as I believe you can expect these days. VERY well made and I just can't tell you the number of laughs I had during places that nobody else did -- all because of my own personal experience out if *the field*. I also enjoyed the soundtrack quite a bit. All in all, this is easily the best Mormon themed movie available today (IMHO).
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2006
Another comedy from the same guys who brought The RM and Singles Ward.
The movie is about four different men serving their mission in Holland.Elder Rogers is deppressed,hopeless and very trunky,Elder Van Pelt,someone who fancies himself as a goodlooking ladies man,Elder Johnson,Elder Van Pelt's senior companion who has more clue on why he's on a mission and last but not the least,Elder Calhoun,the faithful overenthusiastic (in a good way) greenie who pretty much changes the outlook of the 3 other missionaries specially his senior companion Elder Rogers.Like God's Army,this movie shows us what missionaries go through (no matter where they're assigned,these situations apply to everybody) but in a more lighthearted way.
It's a good flick for RMs (makes them remember about their mission years)and for the others who are about to go themselves (it wont discourage you,I promise).Funny, witty and it will open your mind.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2004
When I saw "God's Army" in 2000, I thought that film about Mormon missionaries would be hard to top because of its honest look at the LDS Church, its views, and its missionaries, but this film, "The Best Two Years" surpasses it in every way. For one big reason, the beautiful scenery of the Netherlands is a much welcome cast member itself. Setting the film in Europe, where conversion to any religion is a difficult challenge itself, the film focuses on the internal conflicts of the missionaries themselves, as they struggle with doubts about their faith and what they are doing.
KC Clyde's performance as the burnt out missionary on his last months in the mission is really stellar and the best of the actors in this film. He can convey a range of emotions without a word, just his facial expressions alone. He's not a bad guy at all, perhaps a little cynical about what he's in the Netherlands to do, so it is amusing to watch his transformation from a jaded missionary (who prefers to let his enthusiastic, "fresh of the plane" companion learn from experience the frustrations of looking for open minded people who will accept a lesson) into a sort of "born again" in his own faith. Throughout the film, KC Clyde's character is easily the coolest one of the four, and understandably the missionary anyone would want to be baptized by.
David Nibley offers much of the humor in the film, with his subplot of a waiting girlfriend back home and the humourous conflicts with his mission companion over letters and grammar (particularly his use of "flip" as a profanity). It builds to a scene that I found too over the top to be believable, as they completely tear up the apartment in a scuffle, just before the Mission President arrives unannounced. It seemed ridiculous to me that the whole apartment would be trashed, including their dinner table turned on its side, in such a short time or scuffle, though it has its comedic value. But that's only a minor complaint. The entire film works because of the talented cast. One does get the impression that we're actually watching four Missionaries at work, and even though I'm not LDS, I actually felt bad for them that most people would not give them the time of day. They do manage to entice one investigator into learning the lessons and that leads to an obvious conclusion of baptism (it is a Mormon film after all). When I left the theater after seeing this film, I actually felt guilty for the way I attempted to poke holes into Mormon theology those times I did meet with missionaries (I wasn't so much interested in joining their church as I was to rattle their faith with the illogic of their church's history and beliefs). They are just young men, away from home for two years and learning to come into their own testimony about their church. This film is an outstanding tribute to them and their trials. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about the Mormon Missionaries, especially if you desire to take their lessons.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2004
This movie has a great pace and moves along, consistently illiciting laugh after laugh. Sure, lots of movies and TV shows do that, but there's more to it than that. What makes this special is it's unique Mormon angle. The main characters, far removied from normal life (some more than others), are supposed to live for their faith for two years, paying their own way and sacrificing their normal lives for teaching about Joseph Smith and the Gospel in an uncomfortable suit among people that don't want them there. The unique conflicts created in this environment adds an extra appeal making it far better than watching Friends episodes.
Elder Rogers has spent most of the last two years proselyting, putting off career, school, women, television and movies. However, after being one of the best missionaries in Holland, something has caused him to question whether it's worth it or not and he's lost motivation and his missionary roomates have to guard against him bringing them down with him. He's not sure anymore why he's even serving a mission. This movie really gets rolling when his fresh from the MTC (missionary training center in Utah) Oklahoma native, Elder Calhoon (Kirby Heyborn from The Singles Ward) arrives. Elder Calhoon is a laugh riot and could hold his own in primetime comedy. Watching him butcher the Dutch language with his exagerated Oklahoma accent rations out numerous laughs and his laughably incompetant, overzealous, goofy zeal for missionary work and his apparent naive respect and admiration for Rogers creates a kind of opposites attract buddy-movie along with the spiritual message. The other two Elders' relationship, on the other hand, begins to deteriorate in hilarious fashion, and we see kind of what we saw in God's Army with the gags and immaturity, except it's way funnier. The writers should be commended, along with especially Kirby Heyborn and the rest of the cast. This movie is great. Worth watching multiple times.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2005
What can I say? This is the best movie I have seen in a long time. There is a realness and sincerety that allows the viewer to attach himself to the story and the characters. Gone are the pretenses of the "happy-fuzzies" evoked by other feel-good church movies. This one is pure testimony.
A beautiful film in which entertainment and moral lesson find a perfect balance.