2016, PG-13, 88 min. Directed by John Krasinski. Starring John Krasinski, Margo Martindale, Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copley, Anna Kendrick, Charlie Day, Randall Park, Josh Groban, Ashley Dyke, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Mary Kay Place.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 16, 2016
One thing about being an established actor and beginning director: You have a better-than-average shot at attracting top acting talents to board your project. And it’s the talent onscreen that makes John Krasinski’s second feature film as a director (and, his first, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, as well) so much better than it might have been otherwise. A standard-issue family reunion dramedy, The Hollars has several genuine moments of human interaction that are near-magical to observe because they feel so plucked from real life. But the mostly prosaic screenplay by James C. Strouse (People Places Things, The Winning Season), the way-too-numerous interludes peppered with popular music, and the unimaginative cinematography make this film seem more routine than anything truly special. And that’s a real shame because our cinemas are crying out for the lack of these kinds of modestly budgeted, adult-targeted family dramas and romantic comedies on its screens.
Krasinski is John Hollar, a creatively stymied graphic novelist in New York City, who is expecting the imminent birth of a child with his girlfriend Rebecca (Kendrick). He returns to his family in Ohio after learning of his mother Sally’s (Martindale) diagnosis of brain cancer. His father (Jenkins) is a mess because of his wife’s condition, as well as the approaching bankruptcy of his business (which he thinks he is keeping a secret from everyone). John’s brother Ron (Copley) is also a complete mess (in the only overplayed hand in the movie). They’re all overgrown boy/men, who are near-helpless without the good women in their lives. Yet in between all these are some wonderfully realistic conversations and delightful one-scene contributions from Mary Kay Place and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Both as a family and a film, The Hollars show occasional flashes that they are anything but ordinary.
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The Hollars, John Krasinski, John Krasinski, Margo Martindale, Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copley, Anna Kendrick, Charlie Day, Randall Park, Josh Groban, Ashley Dyke, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Mary Kay Place