Artsploitation Films: Lapland Odyssey (2010) - Reviewed

In 2006, the country of Luxembourg became the first in the world to switch its broadcast signals entirely from analog to digital, followed shortly thereafter by the Netherlands. The following year Finland, Sweden, Andorra, and Switzerland would follow suit (the United States would not join the digital revolution until 2009, during the rise of flatscreen HDTV's). People were in a panic over losing their beloved television channels because their televisions wouldn't be able to display the newer signal type. Luckily, a digital conversion box was created for people to be able to continue enjoying their cable channels uninterrupted, thus ushering in a new phase for the growing digital era that has become synonymous with the 21st century's technological achievements. 

Had it not been for that slight yet hysteria-causing change in broadcast signals, the 2010 Finnish comedy Lapland Odyssey would not be allowed its current premise: a simple yet hilarious adventure undertaken by three friends to acquire a digital conversion cable box. Janne's wife Inari has given him an ultimatum: get her a digital cable box by the morning so they can watch Titanic on TV together, or she's leaving for good. She's become tired of his apparent constant laziness, and his failure to acquire the digital box during the day when he had nothing else to do has pushed her to a breaking point. What ensues is a thrilling, daring, and rollicking buddy comedy that seems so unlike anything else that Artsploitation has in its incredibly varied lineup. 

This would be something more along the lines of a Magnolia release, less exploitative or faux art-house in its style and more straight-up ridiculous fun. Its simple premise allots for less a story to unfold and more buildup for the three friends' various quandaries they find themselves trapped in as they make various stops to aid them, financially or otherwise. The harsh Finnish snow makes this setting a fantastic holiday film- its timeline is even set during the season for added authenticity. It's not really a Christmas film, however- that setting is purely coincidental and adds nothing to the actual story itself. 

Instead, Lapland Odyssey- a film that apparently has two sequels- lauds itself in absolutely ridiculous circumstances and outcomes. Did you ever want to see a group of people running away from a buck naked man in the snow assaulting them with a paintball sniper rifle? Did you want to see a man walk miles in the snow to hook up with an aging centerfold girl he saw on a nudie arcade game in a bar? Did you want to see a charming tale of three friends sticking it out together in the wildest journey ever committed to a low-budget independent film? If the answer to any of these was yes, then Lapland Odyssey is the film for you. It's the kind of dumb, mindless fun you can get behind, and possibly the kind that will stick with you long after its short but memorable runtime has ended. 

Perhaps its not the perfect snowbound comedy that Ruben Östlund's masterpiece Force Majeure would end up being, but Lapland Odyssey, for all it's worth, is an unexpected blast. It's an absolutely ridiculous and riotous ride that has an equally confounding ending as its many hallmarked moments of absurdity. Behind its utterly baffling tale is a touching story of personal romantic redemption amidst a silly quarrel between lovers. Its journey is just as raunchy and ridiculous as you'd expect, however, and one that you definitely don't want to miss out on. An unorthodox addition for Artsploitation's repertoire, but an extremely welcome one nonetheless.

-Wes Ball