Please note that this is a repost of my review from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
John Krasinski has officially made his directorial debut with “The Hollars,” a sentimental, heartwarming family dramedy that isn’t as devastatingly dysfunctional as most family-oriented films often tend to be. Krasinski sticks to the basics for his debut, pulling double debut by starring in the film as well. The film is predictable and falls into certain tropes, but manages to remain utterly charming and heartfelt throughout.
John Hollar (Krasinski) feels like he’s hit a roadblock in life. His graphic novel isn’t going nowhere, his girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) is almost due with their baby and he’s terrified. But before the baby takes over his entire life, John must go back to his hometown after hearing that his mother, Sally (Margo Martindale), is diagnosed with a large brain tumor. So he’s forced to reconnect with his dad (Richard Jenkins) and brother, Ronnie (Sharlto Copley) as well as facing some hostility from his mom’s nurse (Charlie Day) who’s now married to John’s high school girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
“The Hollars” is a simple story of family, coming to terms with reality when it’s staring you in the face, and of being ok with being scared of what’s to come and the instability in your life. John Krasinski peruses ideas and occasionally melodramatic happenings to have the story come to a certain ending, and with the exception of one point of the story, it’s all fairly predictable. But in the case of this film, it isn’t a bad thing.
“The Hollars” is fairly funny, even in its most heart-wrenching moments. It’s so very charming and mostly well-paced, making it very, very hard not to like. It helps that it’s anchored by strong cast performances. Never does it wane or become un-entertaining. Krasinski sticks to what he knows will work, and for his directorial debut, he doesn’t try anything daunting or unattainable.
“The Hollars” is a feel-good, but heartstrings-pulling film that holds up pretty well and is enjoyable on many levels. It doesn’t aspire to be anything it’s not, and although this makes it predictable (a last minute delivery and marriage to stop the film from becoming too sad), Krasinski does a good job giving the movie its own persona and charisma to make it worth checking out.
"The Hollars" doesn't aspire to be anything it's not, and although this makes it predictable, Krasinski does a good job giving the movie its own persona and charisma to make it worth checking out.