“The Hollars” (2016)
When we first meet the Hollar family, they are getting ready for the day. Ron (Sharito Copley) has recently moved back to his parent’s house and is sleeping on the couch. This morning he is desperate to find a bathroom. His mother, Sally (Margo Martingale) is curling her hair and will not let Ron into her bathroom. He moves to the downstairs bathroom, where his father, Don (Richard Jenkins) has set up shop and doesn’t even answer his son’s desperate pleas. Ron decides to take matters into his own hand, looking for an approbate size container for his needs. He finds a plastic pitcher and right there in the kitchen, he begins to relieve himself, only to be interrupted by his father yelling at him.
Before an argument can start, they hear a noise from the upstairs bathroom. They both rush up the stairs to find Sally collapsed on the floor, the hair curler burning her arm. Don doesn’t seem to understand the seriousness of the situation, thinking that Sally is playing a joke. Ron figures out that something is terribly wrong and quickly removes the curler from Sally’s burning arm. Sally slightly regains consciousness, but it’s very apparent that this is serious, and an ambulance must be called.
We cut to New York where another Hollar, John (John Krasinski), an aspersing graphic novel artist is unhappily working at a publishing company. John is surprised by his girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick), who is very pregnant and is pulling a suitcase behind her. She informs John that his dad called her and that his mom is in the hospital with a possible brain tumor. She has booked him on a flight home, and he takes off for the airport. At the hospital, John walks into chaos. His father and brother get into a pushing match, as tension between the two is almost unbearable. Sally is in her hospital bed, trying to keep the peace between the two. And Sally’s nurse, Jason (Charlie Day) is combative with John, due to that fact that Jason married John’s old high school sweetheart. And Sally is told by her doctor (Randall Park) that she has a large brain tumor that just might killer. It turns out Sally has been displaying symptoms for years, but Don thought the symptoms were due to her being overweight. His solution was to put her on Jenny Craig. This is the madness of the Hollar family, and John will soon learn that his family is far loonier than he could ever imagine.
I wish that the script, written by Jim Strouse, was a little stronger. Too often the characters seem one-dimensional, too broadly written to get any depth from them. It makes some of the comedy fall flat or stereotypical, as in a poorly written scene where Ron starts insulting his mother’s surgeon by asking his what type of martial arts does he practice because he is asian. Both Ron, played by Sharito Copley and Jason, the nurse played by Charlie Day, are blatant attempts at hitting the funny bone by giving them outlandish scenes or dialogue to project.
John Krasinski, directing his second feature film, does better with the smaller moments of the movie, such as his character’s time alone with his girlfriend or his mother. Those scenes are full of warmth and funny dialogue. There is a great scene where he has “kidnapped” his mother to a sweet shop so that her last meal before surgery isn’t bland and boring. They talk about where their lives have been and where they want to end up. It’s a beautiful scene that full of heart and sincerity.
The cast makes this film worth watching with Margo Martindale front and center. It’s nice seeing Martindale in more than just a secondary role. She is the center of the film, and her character is the heart of her family. Martindale often lets her character wear her heart on her sleeve, and we can see from her talks with John, that Sally is a thoughtful and insightful person. It’s an impressive performance that if enough Oscar voters see the film, could get her a nomination. Richard Jenkins, as Sally’s highly emotional husband, gives a very sweet and sometimes funny performance as a man who can’t see his life going on without his wife. Jenkins milks every scene to it’s fullest and is hilarious when he bursts out in tears on an almost constant basis. Don could have been a cartoon character if done by another actor, but under Jenkins deft touch, he makes Don seem sympathetic. John Krasinski gives a low-key but nuanced performance of a man who is unhappy but can’t put his finger on how to fix his emotional state. Krasinski has great chemistry with Anna Kendrick, who plays his loving but worried girlfriend.
I wish that Krasinski had stayed away from the broad comedy bits and focused more with the smaller moments of the film. Even with its flaws, “The Hollars” is still worth seeing due to the great performances of Martindale, Jenkins, Kendrick, and Krasinski. My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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