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Film / The Best Two Years

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So I'm going to the land of the tulips, where I'm gonna make the best two years.

The Best Two Years is a 2003 comedy-drama film, written and directed by Scott S. Anderson, about the various experiences of four Mormon missionaries in the Netherlands. The story addresses one missionary's crisis of faith, along with the rather universal themes of annoying roommates, frustration at one's job, being the new person, and public embarrassment.

The movie opens with a brand-new missionary, Elder Calhoun (Kirby Heyborne), arriving in Holland on a train. He is a very gung-ho cowboy/nerd from Oklahoma who can't speak a word of intelligible Dutch and understands little more. His companion is Elder Rogers (K.C. Clyde), a rather lazy missionary who likes photography. He used to be a hard worker, but news from home about his girlfriend's leaving him for another man has made him wonder just what he's doing.


The other set of missionaries are Elder Johnson (David Nibley) and Elder Van Pelt (Cameron Hopkin). Elder Johnson is the righteous one who keeps the other guys in check, but in a nice way. Elder Van Pelt is a snob who wears silky pajamas and has a funny exercise tape to which he jazzercises every morning.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Elder Van Pelt, with his silky pajamas and morning exercise routine. On the other hand, he is writing three different girlfriends.
  • Blatant Lies: Elder Van Pelt is seen rocking out to music in his headphones while shining shoes. Asked what he's listening to, he replies, "Tab choir."
  • Bookends: The movie begins with Elder Calhoun arriving on a train, and ends with Elder Rogers leaving on a train.
  • Chekhov's Skill: A Deleted Scene shows Elder Calhoun teaching Elder Johnson how to tie up a calf, explaining how Elder Johnson knows how to tie up Elder Van Pelt later.
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  • Crisis of Faith: Elder Rogers, as signified by his unwillingness to pray in the morning.
    Elder Johnson: I remember when I first came out here, you and Richardson used to lead the mission every week in teaching discussions. Now look at you! You haven't picked up your discussion book in over a year. I don't even see you kneel down to pray at night, elder. I wonder if you even have a testimony.
    Elder Rogers: Oh yeah, well so do I... I mean I used to, I just don't know anymore.
  • Cue Card: During Elder Calhoun's first discussion, he holds up cue cards so Kyle Harrison answers "yes". Calhoun soon gets the cards mixed up, showing the seventh commandment.note 
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to Halestorm Entertainment's previous films, The Best Two Years focuses less on comedy and explores more thoroughly (and seriously) the topic of Crises of Faith.
  • "Dear John" Letter: Elder Johnson gets a new "Dear John" cassette tape from his girlfriend.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Elder Rogers and Elder Van Pelt.
  • Easy Evangelism: Kyle Harrison is Elders Johnson and Elder Calhoun's "golden investigator".
  • Failure Montage: The "Falling" sequence.
  • Foreign Queasine: Shown in a montage, where Elder Calhoun eats some stinky fish thing. On the other hand, those Stroopwafels they keep eating look really good.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: Elder Calhoun hardly knows Dutch when he gets to the mission field, but he tries really hard to speak it. For example, at the bakery he tries to ask for a cutloaf, but instead asks for a circumcision.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Elder Johnson keeps using the word "flip" as a mild expletive, much to the annoyance of Elder Van Pelt.
  • Good-Times Montage: The "Don't You Know" sequence.
  • Grammar Nazi: Elder Van Pelt insists others use "Books of Mormon" instead of "Book of Mormons".note  He's also annoyed by Elder Calhoun's dangled participles.
  • Grumpy Bear: Elder Rogers at the beginning of the movie, though he gradually improves.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Elder Calhoun says he was chess champion two years in a row in high school.
  • Knocking on Heathens' Door: After Elders Rogers and Calhoun decide to break the mission record on handing out copies of the Book of Mormon, they go from door to door, at first with little success, but they soon catch on.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Elder Calhoun arrives in the mission field ready to preach. His companion, Elder Rogers, isn't as enthusiastic.
  • Nerd Glasses: Elder Calhoun wears a pair, until the end when Elder Rogers gives him less conspicuous glasses as a parting gift.
  • Nervous Wreck: Elder Calhoun really wants to talk to passing strangers, but at first he's nearly scared to death to do so (it also doesn't help that he doesn't really know Dutch).
  • Not Good with Rejection:
    • Elder Rogers started slacking off on his mission after his girlfriend married his former mission companion Elder Richardson.
    • Elder Johnson also has a hard time when his girlfriend sends him a "Dear John" tape.
  • Only Sane Man: Elder Johnson, sometimes. Elder Rogers likes to think he is this.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Elder Van Pelt wants to be a district leader like Elder Johnson, so he constantly tries to impress or flatter the zone leaders and assistants when they call. He also keeps a photo of himself shaking hands with President Sandburg in order to impress him.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Eventually Elder Johnson's patience with Elder Van Pelt punching him wears thin and he decides to get some payback.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: President Sandburg. In a few minutes he's able to diagnose and set straight many of the problems the four elders are facing.
  • Ring Ring CRUNCH: One of the elders apparently smashes his alarm clock when it wakes him up.
  • Scenery Porn: Shots of Dutch fields and windmills.
  • Swapped Roles: Briefly near the end of the film, Elder Johnson becomes the missionary who's lost his drive while Elder Rogers becomes the motivated hard-worker.
  • The Swear Jar: Elder Johnson tells his companion Elder Van Pelt to hit him each time he uses the word "flip". Van Pelt kind of gets carried away with the hitting, at one point almost hitting the mission president for saying "flipping".