Movie Review: John Krasinski’s ‘The Hollars’

The Hollars Film Review

The Hollars, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is the perfect festival film. It’s quirky and cheery, full of wonderful actors and a lead character that has lost his way in life and has a story that turns dramatic in the final act.

It’s something we’ve seen before, dozens and dozens of times, and in the hands of a less capable director and actors, it would have been a hard film to slog through.

The screenplay, written by James Strouse, is formulaic with some incredibly cheesy (and at one point cringe-worthy) moments but director and star, John Krasinski, with the help of his cast (Margo Martindale, Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copely, Anna Kendrick and Charlie Day) manage to make The Hollars so earnest, it’s hard not to like.

Krasinski plays John Hollar, a New York City wanna-be graphic novelist. When he gets word that his mother (Martindale) is ill, he heads back to his hometown and finds things haven’t changed much since he left. His family’s as dysfunctional as ever, his high school rival has married his ex-girlfriend who still has a thing for him and his brother has gone off the deep end by spying on his ex-wife. And to add to that, his girlfriend (Kendrick) back in New York is pregnant.

John Hollar is definitely in Krasinski’s actor wheelhouse and he’s great, perhaps that’s why he choose to direct himself here. I’d imagine it’s easier to direct yourself with a character type that you’re familiar with. The real star of the film though is Martindale. She’s the family patriarch, the rock of the family. When they find out she’s sick, both brothers (Krasinski, Copley) and their father (the always terrific Jenkins) have to find a way to stand on their own. Martindale’s Sally helps guide them to that place. Most of her scenes are from a hospital bed where she’s radiating calm, outwardly at least.

The one cringy moment is when the family starts to sing in unison to Sally. You see it happening, you hear it happening and you’re begging for it not to go there but it does. Thankfully, that once scene doesn’t overshadow the tender moments of Martindale.

Leave a Reply
William H. Macy: “This may sound pretentious, but I am getting better at what I do every day”
"I love the fact that I work every day." - William H. Macy
Luke Hemsworth on ‘Westworld’: “It was a no-brainer to me. I was absolutely going to jump onboard”
"As an actor, if you're given very little information about what's going on, then you're forced to make it up." - Luke Hemsworth
Khary Payton on His ‘Walking Dead’ Audition: “It was one of the more substantial auditions I’ve ever done”
"I always say I’m in the hope business. You’ve got to stay hopeful. You’ve got to get up off your behind and try again..." - Khary Payton
Hayley Atwell’s Best Career Advice: “I’d say the main thing is: show up. Show up and be professional”
Atwell reflects on her career and recounts why she wanted to become an actress since she was a child and what was the best career advice she ever received.
Mike Colter on Playing ‘Luke Cage’: “I was looking at it from the standpoint of an artist”
Colter says that it didn't take long for him to understand the importance of the character in comic book history.