ReelBob: ‘The Hollars’

By Bob Bloom

“The Hollars” is one of those dysfunctional family comedy-drama hybrids that, as you watch it, a feeling of déjà vu envelops you.

The movie is decent, but plays like an extended episode of a TV series.

You continually try to shake the notion that you have seen this all before — and that is because you probably have.

If you’ve seen “This Is Where I Leave You” or “It Runs in the Family,” you know the basics of where “The Hollars” has been and where it is heading.

“The Hollars,” directed by and starring John Krasinski, fails to connect because it doesn’t say anything that we haven’t already heard.

The film does offer some edgy humor, but not enough to sustain it to its finale. It offers some tenderness and heartache, but, again, it fails to fully grab you emotionally.

Krasinski plays John Hollar, who is a struggling artist stalled on his graphic novel in New York, who returns home after his mother suffers a medical crisis — she is diagnosed with a brain tumor.

When he arrives in the bosom of his family, he learns that all is not well. Besides his mother’s illness, his father’s business is failing, his brother, who worked for his dad, has been fired and is living at home and the nurse taking care of his mother is the insecure husband of his former girlfriend.

Most of these threads play out in some manner, while others simply slip through the cracks.

The film’s performances, though, balance the shortcomings in the script.

Veteran character actors Margo Martindale and Richard Jenkins as the elder Hollars, Don and Sally, especially, keep the movie grounded and the audience engaged.

Jenkins is an oblivious husband and dad who, when Sally began showing symptoms that turned out to be a precursor to her brain tumor, sent her to Jenny Craig.

Don is doing a bad job of hiding that his business is going bankrupt.

Sally is the glue that holds the family together. She is gentle but firm, trying to remain positive in the face of adversity.

Others in the cast include Sharlto Copley as Ron, John’s brother, Anna Kendrick as Rebecca, John’s pregnant fiancée, Charlie Day as Jason, Sally’s nurse who is married to John’s high-school sweetheart and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwen, the ex-girlfriend.

With the exception of Copley, most of the others really have no moments to display any depth; they are more like stock figures than real people.

Krasinski’s direction is ordinary. He tries hard to reach the emotional highs, but falls a bit short.

“The Hollars” is an OK movie, worth seeing for the work of Martindale and Jenkins. Just don’t go expecting anything out of the ordinary.

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob ( and Rottentomatoes ( He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom

2 stars out of 4
(PG-13), mature themes, language

  • ReelBob

    The movie did not add anything new to the dysfunctional family movie genre. Do you agree or not? Share your opinions here at ReelBob.