It isn’t typical for really good films to be released at the end of summer, but The Hollars is a happy exception to the rule. What a wonderful movie! John Krasinski has done himself proud as the director and costar of this warm, funny, and emotionally gripping family portrait. It’s so good that at a certain point I forgot I was watching familiar actors and became fully engaged in their characters.

For this, credit must go to the director and his gifted screenwriter, Jim Strouse. I’ve been following Strouse’s career since I chanced to see the modest indie Lonesome Jim (2005) with Casey Affleck. Since then he has written and directed Grace is Gone (2007), The Winning Season (2009) and People Places Things (2015). He understands middle America and brings it to life with a keen eye (and ear) as well as a quirky, sometimes dark sense of humor.

In this case, an emergency operation for the Mom who holds her family together brings two brothers, their loving but hapless father, a fiancée, an ex-wife, a former girlfriend, her current husband and other extended family members together. The conflicts they face range from the serious to the absurd, but all of them are all real and relatable.

Jenkins, Copley, Krasinski

Photo by Jonny Cournoyer, (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

To breathe life into these roles, Krasinski has assembled a dream cast, led by the glorious Margo Martindale, whose presence is reason enough to make this film a must-see. Joining her are Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copley, Charlie Day, Anna Kendrick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Randall Park, and in a tiny role, the always-welcome Mary Kay Place. Krasinski checks his ego as one more member of the ensemble, offering an understated performance as Martindale’s son, who considers himself a failure.

I teared up more than once during this lovely film and encourage you to see it while it’s playing in theaters. Movies as good as The Hollars don’t come along every week; we should cherish and support them when they do.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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April 2024