The Hollars

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Ever since listening to the folksy music found on The Hollars Soundtrack, Iíve been interested in checking out the movie about a dysfunctional family who comes together to stand by their ailing mother.  I finally got that chance.

                In The Hollars, John Krasinski stars as John Hollar, a graphic novelist struggling to make it in New York City, working a job he hates because he needs money to pay the bills.  Especially when he learns that his independently wealthy girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) is pregnant.  Rebecca is worried about John as he has been becoming more and more distant since being told about the pregnancy.  Perhaps she should be worried as John professes his love, but wonders to himself what he has gotten himself into.

                It is in the midst of this debacle that John receives notification that his mother, Sally (Margo Martindale), has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  He quickly heads back to his hometown, a town he was more than happy to leave years before when his future looked so bright.  He finds his father, Don (Richard Jenkins), teetering between denial and worry.  Don is losing his business, but he refuses to let anyone else in the family know.  Johnís brother, Ron (Sharlto Copley), is also there, awkwardly trying to help out.  Ron has been living with his parents ever since his ex-wife Stacey (Ashley Dyke) divorced him.  Ron is non-too-happy with her new partner, Reverend Dan (Josh Groban) and worries about his influence on their daughters.

                And of course, Johnís upside-down life wouldnít be complete without discovering that his motherís nurse, Jason (Charlie Day), is actually married to Johnís ex-girlfriend Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).  Jason is not exactly happy to see John, but invites him over to see his wife and their son.  It is here that John realizes he is actually pretty good with kids.  Meanwhile, Ron is busy getting arrested for sneaking inside Staceyís home to see his daughters and Don is working in a liquor store to make more money.  And all the while, a surgery to remove Sallyís tumor is looming in the near future.

                Will Sally survive?  Can John figure out what it is he really wants out of life?  Will Ron stop stalking his ex-wife?  Will Don stop crying?  You will only find out if you check out the movie.

                What a fun movie!  Yeah, I know what you are thinking Ė this is a depressing subject matter, how can it be fun?  Well, the humor is in how dysfunctional the family is and how they each deal with their problems.  John Krasinski is great as the straight-laced son who somehow lost his will to take chances in life.  Sharlto Copley is hilarious in his reactions to his ex-wifeís new man and his lost puppy attitude when it comes to his family.  Charlie Day is absolutely inappropriate and awkward as Jason who is controlling at the hospital because he has so little control over his own life.  Margo Martindale is terrific as the matriarch of the family trying to keep everyone together in the midst of great fear about the future.  Anna Kendrick is just too sweet in this film and the comments from Richard Jenkins as Dan are hysterical. 

                The song, Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls, found on The Hollars Soundtrack is an excellent fit for this film.  It perfectly describes each member of the Hollar familyís journey, seeking answers about their purpose from others when all they had to do is live and enjoy life to the fullest with all of its ups, downs and little quirks.  Sure, not every moment in the film is funny Ė you will need some Kleenex here and there, but I thoroughly enjoyed every funny and dramatic moment in The Hollars.  This is a terrific dysfunctional family finds the way sort of film and I canít imagine anyone who has a dysfunctional family relationship not understanding or enjoying this movie.  Definitely a must see!


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