2003 - United States - 112 minutes
Director and Writer - Scott S. Anderson
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 7.2/10 - Link to IMDb
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars

This is one of a number of Mormon-themed films produced by HaleStorm Entertainment, but don't be put off by that as The Best Two Years is not preachy but highly entertaining as well as educating to any non-Mormon such as myself.

This is a tale of four young Mormon missionaries serving their two years in Holland. They are four intelligent young men who suffer all the doubts and problems of anyone their age. The story is told by Elder John Rogers and represents the actual events in the life of the writer. At the beginning of the film, Elder Rogers is a little more that two month from the end of his two years but instead of looking back upon a successful mission, he is in the depths of depression. His girl back home in Utah has found another, and that has knocked Elder Rogers completely off his feet. Instead of nurturing and guiding the new missionaries put under his tutelage (called "companions"), he has managed to discourage and drive them all away. It seems that his first companion and good friend was the one who left at the end of his missionary, went back home, and stole Elder Rogers' girl.

Elder Hezekiah Calhoun and Elder Steven Van Pelt are the companions who share the apartment with Elder Rogers. Calhoun is the mature, level-headed one of the group, and Van Pelt is the wealthy, egotistical, ladies man. Of course, that's ladies man in the Mormon sense of the term in that he has three beautiful girls back home with whom he communicates - committing himself to none. Calhoun and Van Pelt are very much concerned about Rogers' depression and fear that he considers his mission a failure even though he had great success at the beginning.

Elder Rogers is being assigned his last companion in the hopes that he will be able to snap out of his doldrums and rise to the occasion. Thus arrives Elder Emmit Johnson, a wide-eyed boy from Texas who is in hopes of accomplishing amazing things during his missionary. Need-less-to-say - as feel good movies go - Johnson's spirit and determination has a great effect upon Rogers.

Much of the scenes of this film take place in the young men's less that luxurious apartment, but there are many scenes of the beauty of Holland when they are out and about on their bicycles dressed in their dark business suits. All of this is accompanied by some better than average music with lyrics that further the story.

The four young actors who play the elders are excellent in their parts and give the viewer a good sense of idealistic young men devoted to a cause. They, along with another young man who plays a convert, make this film an uplifting joy to watch.

Personally, I think organized religions are blights upon the world and that any good accomplished can never make up for all the harm that is done in their names. Obviously, I'm in the minority, so whenever I find an example of the goodness of an organized religion, I welcome the knowledge. The Best Two Years is a genuine story based upon factual events in the author's life and is worthwhile viewing.

Neil Turner
December 18, 2007

The Best Two Years