The Hollars

 

            Honestly, it's sort of an ordinary family drama;  the kind that can be seen on many sticoms, it's just that there are no canned laugh-tracks. 

            Think typical All-American Middle America family.  Dad (Richard Jenkins) owns a small plumbing supply business that's going under.  He responds to everything emotionally, including his sons.  The older one, Ron (Sharlto Copley), is out of favor right now:  divorced from his wife, who's now seeing somebody else, and feeling distanced from his two little girls, he desperately parks outside their house and looks in with binoculars.  This, even after the new boyfriend, Reverend Dan (Josh Groban) politely asks him to cease and desist.  Ron's jobless right now because he's been fired by his dad from the family company. 

            All this is distressing to Mom (Margo Martindale), who just wants everybody to get along, but she's not getting much co-operation.  She barely disguises her preference for her younger son, John (John Krasinski), who lives in New York, trying to make a living as a graphic artist.  The good news is that he has a loving girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick), who's not only pregnant with their child, but rich.  But John is not as together as it seems.  He's not at all certain he's made the right career choice, and a short encounter with a former high school girlfriend has alarmed his sensibilities, which he freely confesses to Rebecca, who, in her delicate condition, is having a hard time not feeling threatened.

            Mom's sudden illness brings the family together, but in crisis mode.  Some of the interplay is warm and touching, but other relational dust-ups seem rather contrived.  It's not all just everybody playing out their caricature---there is at least a little discernible character development----but none of it is very dramatic or surprising.  Yes, it mostly feels real---but also nothing very extraordinary.

            Except for one aspect:  the Youth Pastor, Reverend Dan.  Rarely in modern filmmaking will you see a positive role model for clergy (can you even name one in a recent movie?).  Reverend Dan is patient, and a good listener, but also willing to act decisivly to deliver Ron from a heap of potential trouble.  He doesn't push his religion on people, as they feared he would.  The only perplexing thing is what he might see in Ron's ex, who is given a shallow role as an angry harpy, but maybe he's seeing a side of her that we're not.

            Altogether, a forgettable movie, but one that contains a remarkably positive minor role for a modern clergyman. Whoda thunk it?

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                  What event brought your family closer together?

2)                  What event seemed to cause rift and division in your family?

3)                  Who's the most positive clergy role model you know?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association