FilmIFFBoston 2016Review

IFFBoston Review: ‘The Hollars’ Falls Safely Within the Walls of a Family Dramedy

Maddie Crichton ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

John Krasinski and Anna Kendrick in The Hollars. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

The family dramedy has been constructed down to a science. It needs to be cliché, but not too cliché. For every moment that makes you laugh, there must be a moment that induces sentimental reflection. All family conflict must be resolved, but not before it reaches a hectic dramatic peak. The Hollars, directed by John Krasinksi, the king of charm himself, is no exception to this, and combines these elements into a sweet, thoughtful at times bland story.

When John Hollar (Krasinski) learns that his mother Sally (Margo Martindale) has cancer, he flies back to his hometown to spend time with his family and opens the door to years of built up tensions. In addition to having an ill mother, John has a pregnant wife (Anna Kendrick), unresolved issues with an ex, his father’s business is going under, and his brother cannot move on from his ex-wife. This series of too many problems is the first and main wall The Hollars creates for itself. With so much going on for each character at once, the development for these stories is limited, only allowing the arcs and characters to half reach their full potential.

While this boxed the film into cliché tropes, it used this to its advantage. The story was aware of how cliché it was, and it was not trying to be anything more than that. Anything that seemed trite was not a result of accident as much as it was embrace the formula that the family dramedies usually work off of.

The dynamics between the Hollar family are the main strength of The Hollars. Their transition from an angry, dysfunctional adult family to a loving unit is not only believable, but charming. And the whole film is laced with small moments with insurmountable amounts of charm, as you would expect from Krasinski. These moments save it from being too monotonous, and keep everything moving in an engaging way.

The relationships between the characters take priority over the plot itself, and each have their own levels of endearment. John and his wife, move from the backseat to the glue of the film and the family. While the sadness of a sick mother heavies the storyline, their relationship and the baby on the way sprinkle joy and laughter into the mix.

The Hollars also found charm in its simplicity. Everything from the small town location, to the all too plausible scenarios each character is faced with is very modest. While it did not need anything flashy to sustain it, it still could have benefited from a few more risks. Everything about it was safe. It could have chosen to veer off in a bolder direction, and be less predictable.

But with this considered, it does not intend to be the movie that strays off path. It presents itself as a story that will follow suit of all others before it. And it lives up to the expectations the phrase “family dramedy” sets for it.

Overall Grade: B-

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