Love and Honor: Film Review

Love and Honor Hemsworth Palmer - H 2013
IFC Films

Love and Honor Hemsworth Palmer - H 2013

The young ensemble seems to be playing '60s-era dress-up in this cliche-ridden romantic drama.

A shirtless Liam Hemsworth will please teens in this bland romance set during the Vietnam War.

As bland and generic as its title, Love and Honor achieves the dubious distinction of making the 1960s seem as long ago and exotic as the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, this drama set in the Vietnam era about two soldiers gone AWOL has enough swoony romanticism to win the hearts of teen girls, and the presence of a sometimes-shirtless Liam Hemsworth won’t hurt at all. The film is available on VOD prior to a theatrical release next month.

The story takes place during July 1969, providing the opportunity for plenty of television news clips of the Apollo moon landing as well as a requisite ‘60s soundtrack featuring such ubiquitous titles as “Spirit in the Sky.” It opens in Vietnam, where buddies Dalton (Austin Stowell) and Mickey (Hemsworth) serve in the same unit. The former is revealed to be a master at uncovering Viet Cong booby traps, a skill apparently fostered by his all-consuming desire to return home to his beloved girlfriend June (Aimee Teegarden).

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So he’s naturally devastated when he receives a “Dear John” letter from her. Landing in Hong Kong for a week of R&R, he impulsively decides to board a plane to Michigan to win her back, with Mickey tagging along as well.

Upon arriving in Ann Arbor, the pair discovers that June is now a hippie calling herself Juniper and is living in a communal house with several other flower-children college students, including the gorgeous Candace (Teresa Palmer). Since the soldiers are not exactly welcomed by these anti-war activists putting out an underground newspaper, the fast-talking Mickey spins a slick tale of their having deserted the Army in protest of the war.   

The ensuing romantic complications -- including Dalton’s efforts to win back his ex and Mickey’s ardent pursuit of the initially standoffish Candace -- are set against a backdrop of anti-war activism. Featuring such predictable interludes as dreamy late-night swim in a nearby lake (filmed with PG-13-appropriate decorum), the plot becomes increasingly hard to swallow, culminating in a silly attempt at suspense when one of the soldiers is nabbed by the police.

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Despite the extensive efforts of director Danny Mooney to provide period-perfect trappings, the proceedings somehow are never remotely convincing. Clad in their Army fatigues or hippie garb, the young cast mainly looks like they’re heading to a ’60s-themed Halloween party.

Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) and Palmer (Warm Bodies) certainly make for an attractive screen couple, with the former displaying an easygoing charisma that should take him far. Far enough, at least, that Love and Honor will ultimately wind up as a minor entry in his filmography.

Opens: Friday, March 22 (IFC Films)
Production: Red 56, Deep Blue Pictures
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Austin Stowell, Teresa Palmer, Aimee Teegarden, Chris Lowell, Wyatt Russell, Max Adler, Delvon Roe
Director: Danny Mooney
Screenwriters: Jim Burnstein, Garrett K. Schiff
Producers: Chip Diggins, Patrick Olson
Executive producers: Jim Burnstein, Garret K. Schiff, Eddie Rubin, Peter Pastorelli
Director of photography: Theo Van de Sande
Editor: Glenn Garland
Production designer: Ethan Tobman
Costume designer: Alex Heffes
Rated PG-13, 96 minutes