The Best Two Years
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Ready for another LDS missionary movie? The Best Two Years is very reminiscent of God's Army, but the former was more of a comedy, which had beautiful and in fact better scenery (obviously "better" compared to Los Angeles in God's Army), and it didn't drag as much. It was simply more enjoyable than God's Army and most other LDS movies. The Best Two Years was a good, albeit simple story, and a fairly well done movie. But having said this, it didn't strike me as anything really spectacular and it was, theologically speaking, relatively uninteresting.
The story takes place in the Netherlands, where religion is almost non-existent. This makes for a difficult mission field for any religion. Because of this and losing his girl to his former companion, Elder Rogers (K. C. Clyde) has become rather unmotivated and has lost his focus. He has forgotten what brought him on the mission field in the first place. He is living with two other missionaries--Elder Johnson (David Nibley) and Elder Van Pelt (Cameron Hopkin)--and they all go to pick up Rogers' new companion--Elder Calhoun (Kirby Heyborne). Calhoun turns out to be a hayseed from Oklahoma, who is excited to give his faith away. And it is his simple faith that proves infectious.
Calhoun is so bent on seeing something positive that it appears he becomes delusional. For example, after a day of fasting (which by the way may explain the delusion) with Rogers, Calhoun thinks that Rogers said that the reason they ended up at a market is due to "inspiration." When in fact Rogers actually said it was due to "indigestion." Nonetheless, Calhoun believes that God is going to break through and do something. Calhoun then happens to run into a fellow American--Kyle Harrison (Scott Christopher)--that he met a few weeks earlier in the park. Calhoun immediately jumps all over the poor fellow to shove the restored gospel down his throat. Kyle unwillingly takes the Book of Mormon with Calhoun's number in it just to get out of an awkward situation. Calhoun is so excited for this contact who told him that he would call him to set up a time for the discussions. Calhoun tells his other missionary companions, and they are convinced that Kyle won't call. They have a community prayer, and as soon as Calhoun prays for Kyle to call, he does! Again, Calhoun thinks positively and thinks they are going to give Kyle the discussions. Kyle, though, just intended to return the Book of Mormon since it was in Dutch, and he really doesn't know the language anyway.
Now Calhoun has got Rogers delusional, and they give Kyle an English Book of Mormon and straightaway suck him into a discussion. They set him down and Rogers begins to tell the Joseph Smith story. Tears well up in Rogers' eyes as well as in Kyle's. Rogers explains this is "why we're here. For you." So God (or Satan) honors their delusion, Kyle starts coming to the LDS ward, Calhoun and Rogers start leading the mission in terms of output, and Rogers gets his focus back.
Imagine that, another feel good movie! Of course I have to say a word about the subjectivism. Even though this was a fictional comedy of sorts, it makes sense that the American would be sucked in by this type of subjectivism. That's what religion is for most Americans. It's a thing primarily of the heart and not the mind. Kyle knows this would never work with his medical practice. He would never adjudicate between competing theories using this method. But when it comes to religion, it's no big deal. Now certainly in between discussions Kyle could have been using his mind to let God speak to him, but that's simply not the impression one gets while viewing this movie.
Finally, for more reviews and information on The Best Two Years, click here.
R. M. Sivulka
Salt Lake City, UT
February 21, 2004