Sometimes touching movies overcome obvious flaws. This film is a perfect example.
The Hollars, directed by John Krasinski, is equal parts sophomoric and meaningful. It is a story about a disconnected family trying to come together in a moment of tragedy, and it has an ending that saves the entire film.
In a nutshell, Margo Martindale and Richard Jenkins play Sally and Don Hollar, a couple who have learned to both love and tolerate each other after 35 years of marriage. When it becomes apparent that she has been suffering side effects leading to a brain tumor that hospitalizes her, her husband breaks down in tears when he is chided for thinking that his wife needed to do nothing more than join Jenny Craig to combat her weight problem.
That moment is both funny and sad, and pretty much describes the rest of the film. Dad’s business is dancing on the edge of bankruptcy that caused him to layoff Ron, his emotionally troubled son. Played by the wonderful South African actor Sharlto Copley, Ron is forced to live with his parents while regretting a divorce that has separated him from his two daughters.
In the process a second son, John (Mr. Krasinski), arrives from New York where he is trying to write a graphic novel. John’s girlfriend (the wonderful Anna Kendrick), is pregnant with twins, and she is forced to journey to John’s side when it becomes apparent that he is a bit fascinated with an old high school girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
It is interesting to note that there are moments when the entire audience is loudly laughing while soon left shaking their collective heads over the banal humor. In particular, Copley’s character is a guy who needs to seek intense counseling if he can avoid landing in jail. While you still like him, it is hard to imagine that this is the same guy who performed remarkably as a vicious villain in Elysium (2013) and the cursed hero in District 9 (2009).
Ms. Martindale dominates the film as a woman reflecting on her life as she faces possible death. While I am paraphrasing this, she advises her sons to face life with a smile as everything will work out in the end.
Mothers always seem to know how to embrace life. The film’s ending will soften your hardened heart.