John Krasinski makes his second directorial debut with his film The Hollars. With a moving script written by Jim Strouse and a strong cast featuring Anna Kendrick, Richard Jenkins, Margo Martindale, Charlie Day and Krasinski himself, the quickly paced comedic quips, sprinkled in with heartbreaking circumstances, makes The Hollars a movie that will have you in tears, whether it be from laughter or heartache, from beginning to end.
The Hollars follows John Hollar, an artist in NYC who is forced to go back to his hometown when he receives news that his mother is sick. He goes through a series of personal issues and struggles with some from the past on his journey.
The first thing that I noticed was the realness, I’m not sure if it’s from seeing John Krasinski in The Office for so many years, but watching John (Hollar) go through his life struggles felt very real. Things happened and weren’t played up for comedic purposes. They could have gone a lot more slapstick but didn’t; it was very controlled and the filmmakers knew exactly what they wanted.
While the whole cast did a great job, the standouts for me were Margo Martindale and Richard Jenkins who play (parents) Don and Sally Hollar. They were able to display a real husband and wife relationship that didn’t fall back on the bickering old couple trope. They loved each other deeply and still had flaws within one another. Margo’s portrayal of Sally didn’t make you pity her character at all, she was strong-willed and her own person. Often times in movies when a character has a terminal illness it feels like we’re waiting around looking at a ticking time bomb, The Hollars did a good job at straying away from that. Krasinski managed to frame the story well enough to keep the arc about Sally’s tumor in the forefront but also allowed viewers to care about the other storylines happening.
At moments it could come off as “tropey” featuring story lines we’ve seen a thousand times. There’s the problematic older brother, struggling baby boomer, worried girlfriend, etc. But The Hollars actually put a twist on these, Sharlto Copley as Ron IS the opinionated brother we always see, but he does love his children and does want to do better. Don IS on the cusp of losing his business but he isn’t too prideful to go back to work at a supermarket to pay his employees. Rebecca is the pregnant girlfriend and her and John do share some relationship insecurities but she’s her own person and knows how to support herself (albeit through a trust fund).
One of the best scenes in the movie is when John goes to visit Sally in the hospital and she’s standing looking out the window. Assuming the worst he approaches her and learns that she’s worried about shaving her head because she doesn’t want to look silly. When the nurse comes in to shave her head, John volunteers to do it instead and we’re left with a beautiful moment between a mother and son. One that I’ve never seen in a movie before. He shaves her head and tells her she looks beautiful.
The Hollars wasn’t the most complicated story but it allowed me to go to the theater and laugh and cry and not think about anything else. Sometimes that’s all you want. The Hollars has easily become one of my favorite movies of the year thus far.