By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)

John Krasinsky’s second film as a director is full of heart and earnest intentions, but misfires when it comes to the humor and has its share of poor directorial choices.  The Hollars may have some excellent performances by some talented actors, but the poor performances and bad take choices definitely stick out like big, swollen sore thumbs and make for an awkward and uneven movie.  It doesn’t help that the movie has a mediocre script that needed some tweaking, but a stronger director could have possibly saved the movie or at least improved on where the film fails.

John Hollar (Krasinsky), an unsuccessful graphic novelist is going through more than one crisis in his life.  He and his girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) are expecting their first child, and in addition to his fear of being a bad parent, John is also afraid to take the plunge of proposing marriage to her.  Hollar gets bad news from his family that his mother Sally (Margo Martindale) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and will need surgery in order to survive.  John’s dad Don (Richard Jenkins) is an absolute wreck because of his wife’s condition and is also dealing with business problems.  John’s older brother Ron can’t seem to let go of his former relationship with ex-wife Stacey (Ashley Dyke) who has already begun a new and more functional relationship with Reverend Dan (Josh Groban).  The family members may have their individual issues and problems with one another, but they manage to put these differences aside and work together when their matron needs them all together.

Written by James C. Strouse, The Hollars has very little new to offer movie audiences.  Most of us have seen it all before–family dysfunction, birth, death, illness, arguments, etc.  These characters and story elements are mostly played out and to top it off, Krasinsky and Strouse  just don’t do anything interesting and exciting with them here.  In addition the humor plays out so awkwardly that it gets painful to watch.  Jokes fall flat and bomb and the timing in several scenes are just way off.  The talented cast delivers a mix of solid work and just plain bad acting.  With such talent in the cast, I can only blame the director for getting the worst out of a great cast.

A better director could have gotten better performances from the cast or would have used better takes for some of the scenes. Don’t get me wrong; I actually like John Krasinsky as an actor, but unfortunately he has failed to impress me as a director.  The Hollars is definitely a film not worth hollering over.  With its weak screenplay, it is over even before the shouting.

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