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The Hollars Movie Review

The Hollars Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art
The Hollars is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray.

The Hollars (2016) movie poster The Hollars

Theatrical Release: August 26, 2016 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: John Krasinski / Writer: Jim Strouse

Cast: Sharlto Copley (Ron Hollar), Charlie Day (Jason), Richard Jenkins (Don Hollar), Anna Kendrick (Rebecca), John Krasinski (John Hollar), Margo Martindale (Sally Hollar), Josh Groban (Reverend Dan), Randall Park (Dr. Fong), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Gwen)

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Halfway through his long run on NBC's "The Office",
John Krasinski made his writing and directing debuts on the little-seen 2009 indie dramedy Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Since then, Krasinski directed three "Office" episodes and co-wrote the screenplay of Promised Land (2012) with Matt Damon. For his second feature as director, Krasinski gives us The Hollars, another independent dramedy, this one overflowing with on-screen talent.

Krasinski plays John Hollar, a thirtysomething living in New York who is struggling to make it as a graphic novelist. His pregnant girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) passes along word that John's mother Sally (Margo Martindale) has suffered a seizure and has been found to have had a very large tumor on her brain. The tumor has been there for years but went undetected as her husband Don (Richard Jenkins) misinterpreted her symptoms as weight-related. Naturally, John flies in to be with his family in their unidentifiable suburban world, as Sally prepares to have a surgery to remove the tumor.

Hollar parents Don (Richard Jenkins) and Sally (Margo Martindale) share a laugh in the hospital.

Back home, John reconnects with his high school girlfriend Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who has just had a baby with her husband Jason (Charlie Day), John's old classmate and Sally's present nurse. John also witnesses the sad state of his unemployed brother Ron (Sharlto Copley), who likes to drive up to his ex-wife's house and peek in on her, their daughters, and her new boyfriend (Josh Groban, the film's unlikely bright spot), a youth minister, with binoculars.

With his uncertain future occupying his mind, John also learns that the family's business is on the verge of bankruptcy and that Sally questions marrying Don after all these years.

Reverend Dan (Josh Groban) awkwardly catches Ron (Sharlto Copley) and John (John Krasinski) spying on his family.

With all the talent it assembles, The Hollars should be a home run. You expect an intelligent and heartfelt tale of family. But this is an indie that seems to want to be a mainstream movie. Tonally troubled throughout, this PG-13 dramedy is inauthentic, manufactured, and schmaltzy. Somehow, the Oscar-nominated and eminently respectable Jenkins feels like an amateur performing the hysterics he's given. Copley hasn't had much of a career outside a trio of films for his fellow South African, Neill Blomkamp.
His character here feels so out of place and unnatural that you wonder if the compelling District 9 star has the range or vocal ability to play an average American. In the lead role, Krasinski seems as uncomfortable as anyone, his tight shirts, skinny jeans, and ennui making you suspect the protagonist is intended to be about ten years younger than the actor is. Even the ever-entertaining Day can't entirely crack the riddle that is his character, one who largely bows out after John's awkward evening as dinner guest.

Lathered in ineffective independent music and saddled by unconvincing sentiment, The Hollars feels like Krasinski's too-late attempt to make his own Garden State, albeit one that feels more like a cheesy network television dramedy than a bona fide independent feature film. Though as star/director/producer, Krasinski may earn the lion's share of the fault, some of the blame must go to Jim Strouse, the film's lone screenwriter, a man who typically directs what he writes, including Grace Is Gone, The Winning Season, and People Places Things.

Though Sony Pictures Classics is gradually expanding it in limited release, you can expect The Hollars to fade fast, hindered by negative reviews when they matter most.

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Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Sully Hell or High Water The Light Between Oceans Hands of Stone War Dogs Kubo and the Two Strings Suicide Squad
John Krasinski: Away We Go License to Wed | Sharlto Copley: District 9 Elysium Maleficent
Anna Kendrick: The Last Five Years Into the Woods | Charlie Day: Horrible Bosses Going the Distance
Richard Jenkins: Lullaby Step Brothers | Margo Martindale: August: Osage County
Written by James C. Strouse: People Places Things New York, I Love You
This Is Where I Leave You Jeff, Who Lives at Home Grosse Pointe Blank

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Reviewed September 9, 2016.



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