Sunday, August 28, 2016

Movie with Abe: The Hollars

The Hollars
Directed by John Krasinski
Released August 26, 2016

It’s always interesting to see the roles in which actors who become directors cast themselves when they step behind the camera. In some cases, the performer will always be the center of attention, which has led to Oscar wins for directing – not acting – for the likes of Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood, while others are hidden in the supporting cast, like Nanni Moretti, whose “Mia Madre” opened this week. For his second time behind the camera, following “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” in which he played a small role, John Krasinski is the lead, embedded in a very strong ensemble paired with a great script in this entertaining dramedy.

“The Hollars” opens by introducing its matriarch and patriarch, Sally (Margo Martindale) and Don (Richard Jenkins), whose adult son Ron (Sharlto Copley) is clearly not having the best time living with them if his need to pee in a pitcher because both bathrooms are occupied in the first scene is any indication. After Sally passes out in the bathroom, a visit to the hospital reveals that she has a large brain tumor, prompting the return home of her son John (Krasinski), who has largely cut himself off from the family, living and working in New York City with a baby on the way with his girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick). With all the family so close and Sally’s health on the line, there’s bound to be plenty of laughs and tears ahead.

This film boasts a number of great lines wittingly delivered by its cast, and a big reason for that is the screenplay from James C. Strouse. It shouldn’t be surprising that John’s cartooning hobby reminded me of “People, Places, Things,” since Strouse wrote and directed that terrific comedy. Krasinski does well with the material, helming a decent story with a number of points of accessibility for audience members. Krasinski’s role is suitable to his talents as is Jenkins’. Martindale, as usual, is spectacular, and the film’s poster demands an Oscar nomination for her which would definitely be warranted. Kendrick is lovely, and Copley, the South African star of “District 9,” fits in much better than expected with a compelling turn as the screwup son with two daughters of his own. In smaller roles, Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Winstead steal scenes as high school colleagues of John’s. This isn’t an entirely original comedy but it is a perfectly fun and very enjoyable one.


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