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John Krasinski
John Krasinski, Anna Kendrick, Margo Martindale, Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copley, Charlie Day
Writing Credits:
Jim Strouse

A man returns to his small hometown after learning that his mother has fallen ill and is about to undergo surgery.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$38,210 on 4 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:
Chinese Traditional

88 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 12/6/2016

• Audio Commentary with Actor/Director John Krasinski and Actor Margo Martindale
• “The Family Trust” Featurette
• “Persistent Vision” Featurette
• LA Festival Q&A
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Hollars [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 5, 2016)

Best known as an actor, John Krasinski brings us his second directorial effort via 2016’s The Hollars. John Hollar (Krasinski) lives in New York City, where he works as a graphic novelist and resides with his pregnant girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick).

John finds himself forced to return home to his small Ohio hometown when he learns that his mother Sally (Margo Martindale) suffers from a brain tumor. This visit finds John swept up in family dysfunction as well as old drama from his youth.

If that plot synopsis sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve gotten skillions of similar movies over the decades. The idea of the person who returns home and must deal with residual family drama isn’t exactly new or fresh.

That doesn’t mean that this basic narrative can’t enjoy its own spin. Even with a well-worn basic story, I hoped Hollars would bring something entertaining to the table.

Alas, this doesn’t occur. Instead, Hollars comes with little more than a compendium of melodramatic clichés, none of which allow it to develop into anything interesting.

On the positive side, Hollars features a very good cast. In addition to Krasinski and Martindale, we find Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Randall Park, Sharlto Copley, Charlie Day, Mary Kay Place and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Clearly Krasinski called in a lot of favors to bring us such a strong roster of actors, and I think they perform perfectly well.

However, they find themselves stuck in parts that rarely allow them much time to shine. Scratch that – in truth, Hollars suffers because it often gives the actors too much to do within the logical scope of the story.

By this I mean that Hollars packs an awful lot of life-changing drama into one short period of time. A logical version of the narrative would include one major issue: Sally’s illness. The movie could use that topic as a springboard to get into family-connected drama, but it doesn’t need other significant events.

Unfortunately, Hollars doesn’t know when to quit, as all involved face Major Life Problems. John deals with a failing career and his girlfriend Rebecca’s (Kendrick) late-term pregnancy. Oh, and they’re not married, so that creates a bone of contention.

John’s father Don (Jenkins) runs a failing business and confronts bankruptcy. John’s brother Ron (Carlto) lacks drive or career success and also obsesses too much over his ex-wife Stacey (Ashley Dyke), an area that potential gets him into legal trouble. John’s former classmate/rival Jason (Day) married John’s high school sweetheart Gwen (Winstead), and Gwen continues to carry a torch for John due to the unsatisfying nature of her relationship.

Whew! Any one of these threads could form the basis for an entire movie, so the presence of so many shoved into one film seems like radical overkill. That seems especially true because Hollars runs a mere 88 minutes – virtually none of the plot components gets any room to breathe, so we’re stuck with thin characters and incessant melodrama.

Unrealistic melodrama, to boot. While all of the movie’s story elements find basis in reality, the choice to make all of them co-exist at the same time seems highly improbable. How many families suffer from so many major life episodes all at once?

Because of this, Hollars tends to feel awfully contrived, as though it lacks confidence in its main Sally-related theme so it throws anything it can find at us. This flops – throw in a happy ending that comes from some magical place and Hollars lacks much merit.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

The Hollars appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a satisfactory presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed solid. A couple of wide shots looked a smidgen soft, but those were the exception to the rule, as the majority of the flick was accurate and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

Like most films of this sort, Hollars gave us an amber-tinted palette. Other hues appeared, but the golden feel dominated. Within those parameters, the hues were positive. Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed good smoothness and clarity. I felt happy with the transfer.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Hollars, it lacked a ton of ambition. The soundfield focused on music and ambience, though it opened up on occasion. For instance, street scenes became a little more involving. Nothing especially memorable occurred, though.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well enough. They didn’t have much to do, but they appeared reasonably accurate. All of this ended up as a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack for this sort of movie.

When we shift to extras, we find an audio commentary with actor/director John Krasinski and actor Margo Martindale. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, music, cast and performances, sets and locations, and related topics.

Krasinski does most of the heavy lifting here, as Martindale adds little to the track. Not that Krasinski tells us a ton of value, but when we do find useful material, those notes invariably come from him.

Unfortunately, most of the commentary focuses on praise and happy talk. Both Krasinski and Martindale talk about how wonderful each other are, and we hear many plaudits for others as well. Krasinski still manages to produce a moderate number of decent details, but listeners need to wade through a lot of fluff to get to these.

A few video pieces follow. The Family Trust runs 17 minutes, 44 seconds and includes info from Krasinski, Martindale, producers Allyson Seegar and Tom Rice, and actors Anna Kendrick, Josh Groban, Charlie Day, Richard Jenkins, and Sharlto Copley.

“Trust” looks at the film’s development, story and characters, cast and performances, Krasinski’s work as director, locations and a few scene specifics. Like the commentary, “Trust” presents a smattering of useful notes, but a lot of it focuses on happy talk.

Persistent Vision lasts six minutes, three seconds and features Martindale, Rice, Seegar, Jenkins, Copley and Krasinski. The show focuses on Martindale’s career and aspects of her Hollars performance. I like the brief glimpse at her history but think “Vision” mainly acts as another excuse to praise the participants.

Finally, we get an LA Film Festival Q&A with Krasinski, Martindale and actor Anna Kendrick. In this 18-minute, 54-second piece, they discuss the film’s development, casting and performances, and some anecdotes. Much of this repeats from prior pieces, so it doesn’t add much fresh material.

The disc opens with ads for The Meddler, The Bronze, and Equity. We also get the trailer for Hollars.

A fairly trite family drama, The Hollars lacks real highs. While it boasts a fine cast, it comes with too much of a “been there, done that” vibe via the stale story and characters. The Blu-ray provides very good picture with acceptable audio and generally average supplements. Nothing about Hollars allows it to rise above mediocrity.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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