Definitively answering the question of what would happen if the hippie-chic mannequins in a Forever 21 shop window attained sentience, Danny Mooney’s “Love and Honor” spins a tale of Vietnam-era romance so bland that its period inauthenticity begins to exert a surreal fascination. Boosted by the fortuitous presence of “Hunger Games” heartthrob Liam Hemsworth, as well as a similarly hulking co-star in Austin Stowell, the film should be able to rely on swooning teen-girl attention to draw some moderate VOD interest, having as it does few other commercial cards to play.
Portentously framed between the launch and landing of the Apollo 11 in July 1969, the film’s action begins in the war zones of Vietnam, with well-groomed GIs Mickey Wright (Hemsworth) and Dalton Joiner (Stowell) out on patrol. Freewheeling ladies man Mickey mans the radio, while square-jawed, taut-sphinctered Dalton is the platoon’s de facto leader, driven by his all-consuming love for a gal named June (Aimee Teegarden) back home.
In a scene so obviously predestined that it hardly even needed to be shot, Dalton receives a “dear John” letter immediately before a Viet Cong ambush, and the survivors are sent off on a weeklong R&R trip to Hong Kong immediately thereafter. Dalton decides to go temporarily AWOL and return to the States to win back June; Mickey follows him, oddly willing to abandon his enthusiastically planned week of carousing and risk serious imprisonment in order to follow a not-particularly-close friend halfway across the globe to Michigan.
Arriving in Ann Arbor, the two discover June has taken the name Juniper, and is living commune-style among some of the most fresh-scrubbed and lucid hippies known to man. Catching self-righteous static from the peaceniks, Mickey abruptly spins a tale pegging Dalton and him as conscientious Army deserters who hitchhiked from ‘Nam to Canada — while still in uniform — without any real trouble. This ruse makes the twosome heroes among the flower children, and Mickey’s increasingly bold (yet rarely politically specific) activist talk attracts the attention of free-thinking (yet also chaste and sober) flower-child Candace (Teresa Palmer).
From here it’s a standard-issue tour through a patchouli-scented CW sitcom landscape, with an anemic antiwar rally, a “Dragnet”-worthy be-in and a clothed skinny-dipping session giving the two love stories room to play out. That the film at least nods toward the draft-card anxieties of its characters and allows them one weed-smoking session sans repercussions count as welcome doses of realism in an otherwise entirely Disneyfied reimagining of ’60s counterculture.
Both male leads are extremely good-looking and occasionally shirtless in a film that asks little else of them. Save for some regrettable wardrobe decisions, the production values are perfectly suitable for such a modestly budgeted production.