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Title: The Hollars

Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:79

There is one thing that holds people together in this world, family. No matter where we are in our life it’s those familial bonds that help shape who we are and support us when we’re in our lowest moments. However, not all families are perfect or at least cohesive. The greatest and most common family structure known to man is the dysfunctional family. Those families that seem to be holding on by the barest of threads and look to the outside world like they’ve really got nothing to fall back on. This theory of the dysfunctional family has been parodies and lampooned throughout the history of film (“The Simpsons”, “Malcolm in the Middle”, just about every comedy known to human kind etc. etc. etc.), and John Krasinski’s “The Hollars” plays to the strengths of that genre with a wicked sense of humor and an emotionally stirring burst of familiar joy.

Meet the Hollars. A family who is about to find out just what they’re made of. When Matriarch Sally Hollar (Margo Martindale) collapses in her home and it’s found out that she has a 15 year old brain tumor, it’s time for the entire Hollar clan to come together in support. Don Hollar (Richard Jenkins) is the oblivious husband who is slowly slipping away from reality himself in some ways. He’s joined by his son Ron (Sharlto Copley) who is a divorcee living at home on his parents dime, and Ron’s brother John (John Krasinski), who is a struggling New York City artist who has his own set of problems. This motely group of men assemble to support their mother, but it’s as they say. Family is the worst set of friends you’ll ever have. Tempers are running high, and soon things start to slowly fall apart under the stress and worry about what will happen to Sally.

Ron is struggling with loneliness and fear for his future, as he’s watching his ex-wife and children slip away from when it was HIS fault for their separation to begin with, while John is literally TERRFIED about bringing a kid into the world with his girlfriend Rebecca (played by the adorkable Anna Kendrick), and is dealing with feelings of depression and inadequacy as a human being. Ron is barely hanging on after living a lifetime full of joys and regrets. His wife is fighting for her life in a hospital bed and his world is collapsing around him. The business that he gave his life to run for the last 30+ years is on the verge of bankruptcy. The feeling of inadequacy and failure are just as strong as his sons is and nothing seems like it is going to be alright at the end of the day.

“The Hollars” can best be defined as a dark and painful comedy. The film is filled with quirky characterizations and offbeat humor that will having you chuckling throughout the 89 minute runtime, but that humor is utilized to very delicately distract the attention of the viewer from some of the deeper and more painful subtext that flows though the experience. While there is some clichés and dramedy traits that run similar to other flicks, what makes “The Hollars” so wildly unique is the amount of individualization and time that is spent fleshing out each and every one of them. Ron is the bizarre man child of the family and played to perfection by Sharlto Copley (who is doing his very best to control that thick Afrikaner accent of his). Sometimes you want to give him a hug, but much of the time the viewer is spending banging their head against the wall for his deranged antics (which are best defined by the opening scene of the movie where he’s urinating into a juice container in his parent’s house). John is the polar opposite of Ron, spending his time in New York City, far from the Podunk beginnings of his life but is really struggling just as much as his brother is. He’s got a wonderful mate in the form of Anna Kendrick (who is literally one of the best supporting characters in the whole film) but he somehow can’t find self-worth in anything he does.

As messed up and twisted as this family is, they’re still family. The story is told through the eyes of Sally Hayes as she’s lying in her hospital bed, but also takes time to linger its gaze upon each and every one of the family members. Laying bare their flaws, their foibles and their terrified fear of what the future must bring. However, this is what bonds them together and pulls back the veneer that makes them seem like they have things under control, because that’s what life is. Being completely out of control and holding on for dear life in hopes that you make it through till the end. There’s pain, there’s joy, there’s more pain and still more joy, but at the end of the day you just have to try your best and make it through till the next big hurdle in your life. This is what makes “The Hollars” so poignant. It masterfully and delicately paints a picture of life that is hysterically amusing, gut wrenchingly painful and altogether REAL in the way it depicts the ups and downs of living and breathing.


Rated PG-13 for brief language and some thematic material

Video :4stars:
Shot on Arri Alexa Plus cameras, “The Hollars” enjoys a crisp and clean looking digital transfer that has very few, if any, flaws to its name. Framed in 1.85:1 with an AVC encode for the Blu-ray, the picture is nicely intimate, allowing for strong close ups of the family members and a well-defined looking image. Colors are fairly neutral overall and the details are more than satisfactory for a modern day dramedy. Facial details are picture perfect, and the aging marks on Margo’s face show up as well shot and replicated as the soft dressing gown she’s wearing at the hospital or the rough look of Ron’s beat up old car. Black levels and deep and inky, with minimal banding throughout, and the shadow detail is quite pleasing to the eye. There’s a slightly soft look to the film overall, and while it’s not something that causes a problem, it just keeps it from being that sharp, eye popping image that makes you go “wow!”.

Audio :4stars:
Much like the video, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is quite nice. It’s never one that rocks you back on your heels with aggressive gunshots or the like, but everything that is asked of it is done with competency and enthusiasm. The talky film is very heavily front loaded, with most of the activity belonging to the center channel and the resulting dialog. There’s some decent imaging in the front system with the background noise of the hospital, or the mumble of people in a pasty café, and those ambient noises bleed back into the surround channels as well. The LFE is fairly laid back, but does allow for some more aggressive moments when the Indigo girls or the score itself amps up the volume just a little bit. It’s a simple track, but one that is done quite nicely and should be more than pleasing enough to the listener.

Extras :2.5stars:

• Commentary with John Krasinski and Margo Martindale
• The Family Trust: Inside The Hollars
• Persistent Vision: Margo Martindale
• LA Film Festival Q&A with John Krasinski, Anna Kendrick and Margo Martindale

Overall: :4stars:

“The Hollars” is ridiculous, painful, sweet, hysterical and completely fantastic as one of the best dramedies of recent times. The pitch perfect cast makes the film come alive with exuberance and beauty, and even the supporting characters add a flair to the movie that is unmistakable (well, except for Charlie Day, who really is hugely grating in every scene he’s in). Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, the afore mentioned Charlie Day and even Josh Groban shows up to add a little flavor to the already spicy dramedy and I couldn’t be happier with the results. The Blu-ray itself is a nice little package, complete with a digital copy (a rarity for Sony Picture Classics titles), a decent array of extras and some impressive audio and video scores. Definitely worth watching.

Additional Information:

Starring: John Krasinski, Sharlto Copley, Margo Martindale, Anna Kendrick
Directed by: John Krasinski
Written by: James C. Strouse
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Sony Picture Classics
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 89 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 6th 2016

Buy The Hollars On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

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