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IFFBoston ’16 Review: The Hollars

John Krasinski takes the directing chair for the first time since “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” with this sweet ensemble dramedy. “The Hollers,” led by Krasinski, also stars Anna Kendrick, Sharlto Copley, Richard Jenkins, and Margo Martingale.

The film opens with Ron Hollar (Copley) having a funny exchange with his mother Sally (Martingale). A few moments later, while talking to Don (Jenkins), his father, they hear a thud. Sally has hit the floor due to a seizure.

We then meet John (Krasinski) who lives in New York and is a struggling graphic novelist. Becca (Kendrick), his pregnant girlfriend, arrives at John’s work with a packed suitcase, bringing him the news that his mother has a brain tumor. As John arrives to be with his family, a doctor exclaims that the tumor has to be at least a decade old – a fact which Sally takes gently. Don however goes back and forth from devastation to composed, blaming himself for misreading the symptoms.

The film moves fast, at only 88 minutes, the story flies through a web of moments and short secondary plots that unfortunately never go as deep as we’d like.

John, clearly insecure about Becca being pregnant and them not being married, feels like a failure because his life hasn’t quite gone to plan. In-between some genuinely sweet moments between his Mom, he reminisces about his past life, but again just on the surface.

Outside of John’s journey, we learn more about Ron and his ex-wife and children. He stalks the ex-wife and kids incessantly, but never dives deeper than the comic relief. We also see Don’s struggling business – but again, it comes off as a short aside rather than anything of great value. While clearly the attempt on the script side was to connect the three men with their positions in life and their decisions, it never completes the circuit.

“The Hollars” does at times paint-by-numbers – but Krasinski and the ensemble do draw you in – the characters are convincing and the feelings genuine. “The Hollars,” is a cute movie with some good moments and a great cast, but ultimately falters at being something really unique.

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