Rated: PG-13 for brief language and some thematic material. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: August 26, 2016 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
John Krasinski (Away We Go, 13 Hours...) directs and headlines this too pat, hardly edgy dysfunctional family comedy-drama that will earn more revenue in ancillary or VOD streams than in its presumptive brief theatrical run.
The Hollars is notable for a cast that includes Anna Kendrick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane), Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses 2), Sharlto Copley (Chappie), as well as vets like Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and Margo Martindale (August: Osage County). Not to mention Randall Park as a family physician and musical star Josh Groban (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) as a preacher.
Suffice to say, an inadequate son (soon to be father) returns to the Midwest from Manhattan after a parent is faced with a terminal illness as Krasinski opts for a lighter mood amidst the wacky and maudlin that hardly proves as effective as others of its ilk, even something odd, but more daring like when he starred opposite Maya Rudolph in Away We Go.
The material is rendered in stolid fashion, though the actors do their best to enliven it with amusing, even touching interludes, alas, even if some gags feel more than a little recycled. Which does leave it in sitcom territory for the most part with predictable developments.
But an actor's director locates at times palpable warmth and humor with Martindale being an unexpected altruistic linchpin even when a breakdown finally occurs as the familial backbone. Jenkins makes for an emotional wreck of a businessman and loving father and parent who gets slap-happy with his ne'er do well son, a hot-headed Copley. In contrast, Krasinski's struggling graphic novelist John is a more low-key figure with a very pregnant girlfriend Becca (Kendrick of Pitch Perfect 2). The plotting essentially, given a brief runtime, isn't very refined perhaps given the budgetary constraints.
In the end, with a production as brightly nondescript as what it presents with Josh Ritter's music echoing the moods and character dilemma, The Hollers as good as Martindale, and Jenkins, to a lesser degree, make it out to be is certainly nothing to holler about.