I can’t imagine it’s easy to make a comedy about sick family, but John Krasinski manages to pull it off quite well in his second directorial stint, The Hollars, in which a family populated by Krasinski, Margo Martindale, Sharlto Copley and Richard Jenkins succeeds in making you laugh, smile, wince and, yes, cry, sometimes all at the same time.
Krasinski plays an aspiring graphic novelist working at a publishing company who’s about to have a baby with his girlfriend (Anna Kendrick). When he gets word that his mother (Martindale) is in the hospital, he heads home to lend his support and, naturally, becomes entangled in the problems faced by his brother (Copley) and father (Jenkins).
Before we even see the first image, we hear the strains of Josh Ritter’s acoustic score. Great, I thought, another Emo-esque indie comedy a la another TV-star-turned-director, Zach Braff. Krasinski even borrows Braff’s penchant for filling the soundtrack with the kind of wistful tunes meant to convey a character’s emotions.
Persevering because of the cast, I was rewarded handsomely with some offbeat yet nicely understated performances, laughs derived from characters instead of punchlines, and tears that felt earned instead of yanked out. And while Krasinski does pile on the music, I liked most of it, and especially appreciated the way he used the Indigo Girls song “Closer to Fine.”
And what a cast Krasinski has gathered. Actor-wise, he himself ably conveys his thirty-something’s uncertainty, while the always reliable Jenkins once again plays every emotion perfectly. Copley reps the biggest surprise. I never saw him doing comedy, at all, but he wholly succeeds at making us laugh and care about, and relate to, his somewhat sad-sack-ish sibling.
Then there’s Martindale, who only in the last few years has really shown what a fine actresses she is, thanks to roles on series like Justified and The Americans. Here her humor helps the medical stuff go down easier, and she will bring you to absolute tears as she heads into surgery. She is the film’s heart and soul, and we should holler at the Academy to award her an Oscar. – [DVD]
DVD Release Date: 12/6/16