A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Hollars is about a dysfunctional family that must face a health emergency -- and find a way to rally together despite plenty of other stresses and the looming presence of death. Directed by The Office star John Krasinski, this dramedy has a fair amount of swearing (including "s--t" and a "f--k"), plus beer drinking by adults and scenes in which characters get argumentative and aggressive (both verbally and physically; two characters end up in a slap fight). There's also frank discussion about mortality and the emotional costs of divorce on couples and their children, all of which will likely make this movie more relatable and appealing for adults than teens.
What's the story?
In THE HOLLARS, John Hollar (John Krasinski) has a thankless job at a publishing company and has nearly given up hope on his graphic novel dreams. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick), is very pregnant; although John loves her, he's overwhelmed. Things take an even more stressful turn when John's mother, Sally (Margo Martindale), suffers a fall and is subsequently diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. John hasn't gone home very much, but now it's time -- especially since his father (Richard Jenkins) can't seem to handle the situation, partly due to the fact that he's on the brink of financial disaster. And then there's John's brother, Ron (Sharlto Copley), who seems to have moved on only ever so slightly from his divorce years ago.
Is it any good?
This movie is an empathetic, sometimes funny exploration of a dysfunctional family desperately trying to be functional in the face of bad news. Unfortunately, The Hollars can get in its own way. For starters, Krasinski, who also directed, overuses music in the movie, as if unwilling to trust that audiences will understand its emotional beats without hit-you-over-the-head cues. And the characters would be better served if they were painted with a light touch of quirk, as opposed to the caricatures that many of them become.
Still, you can't over-emphasize the depth of the cast's talents. They're led by a stupendous Martindale, who grounds the film in compassion, gravitas, and perfect comedic timing. Ditto Jenkins. Thank goodness the cast has such a winning chemistry, or else The Hollars would fade into the background. As it stands, it's memorable enough to warrant a watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Hollars depicts divorce. How does it affect both parents and their children? Do you think this is a realistic portrayal? What other movies have handled this topic?
What's the role of forgiveness in the movie? Does it vilify any particular character(s) more than others? Is that fair?
Talk about how the family responds when Sally gets so sick. Are they relatable? What makes a family "dysfunctional"? Are any families free of these kinds of issues?
- In theaters: August 26, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: December 6, 2016
- Cast: Sharlto Copley, Richard Jenkins, John Krasinski, Anna Kendrick, Margo Martindale
- Director: John Krasinski
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: brief language and some thematic material
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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