Pulled from the Bloodshed of Vietnam, Soldiers Come Home to Lives They Didn’t Leave in Love and Honor

 Pulled from the Bloodshed of Vietnam, Soldiers Come Home to Lives They Didn’t Leave in <em>Love and Honor</em>July 1969. The war in Vietnam rages on, but all eyes are on Cape Kennedy and the first moon launch. When girlfriend Janie dumps him in a Dear John letter, Dalton (Austin Stowell), a model soldier with the kind of leadership qualities that guarantee him a Purple Heart, uses his one-week leave to go AWOL, fly home to Michigan from Hong Kong and get her back. His best buddy Mickey (Liam Hemsworth from The Hunger Games), a happy-go-lucky goof-off who doesn’t take the war any more seriously than he does a string of love-’em-and-leave-’em one-night stands, tags along for moral support. When they find Janie, she’s pretentiously changed her name to “Juniper” and moved into a house full of anti-war hippies. In the week that follows, the hero loses his patriotism, the guy who doesn’t believe in relationships falls in love with an idealistic journalism major and the astronauts land on the moon. It’s called Love and Honor, and you better believe it.

Buried six feet deep with clichés like war protestors chanting “Power to the people!”, riot police throwing canisters of tear gas into a crowd of college students, a hippie commune where everybody owns a typewriter but nobody can repair the fax machine and draft dodgers on their way to Canada disguised as military police who are there to get Mickey to the airport on time, Love and Honor starts with a bang on the front lines but ends with a teary-eyed whimper. The second half turns talky and slow—Dalton gets disillusioned by the changes in Jane, and Mickey turns respectful and responsible. Everybody learns something about the illusion of love and the power of honor. It’s hard to believe it wasn’t written by Nicholas Sparks.

Liam Hemsworth, the Ben & Jerry Flavor of the Month, is a sexy Australian centerfold without a trace of an accent who can actually act. His love interest is Teresa Palmer, a fellow Aussie who recently starred in the zombie flick Warm Bodies. They may be camera-ready smoothies who take their clothes off often enough to keep the teen dweebs drooling, but I’ve seen more skin in a Palmolive commercial. Even in their big skinny-dipping sequence, they’re handled as discreetly by director Danny Mooney as two Disney cows on their way to the state fair. Close to smoking, but no cigar.

rreed@observer.com

LOVE AND HONOR

Running Time 96 minutes

Written by Jim Burnstein and Garrett K. Schiff

Directed by Danny Mooney

Starring Liam Hemsworth, Teresa Palmer and Aimee Teegarden