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Aspiring New York City artist John Hollar returns to his Middle America hometown on the eve of his mother’s brain surgery. Joined by his girlfriend, eight months pregnant with their first child, John is forced to navigate the crazy world he left behind.

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The Hollars movie full length review - An assured feature film directing debut by Krasinski in this touching & funny family drama

Films with families coming together where one sibling his been absent for years that has in turn led to rivalry and jealously are not exactly new ground but in 'The Hollars' it never feels overly familiar thanks largely to the golden rule of film making, that a good script is King.

The movie directing debut of John Krasinski, who also acts see's him play John Hollar, a struggling insecure graphic novelist, with a pregnant girlfriend (Anna Kendrick) living in New York. Upstate his father (Jenkins, brilliant as always) is running a failing family business, while his brother (Sharlto Copley) Ron, has just been fired by the Dad for warning him they're days away from bankruptcy. Ron has his own problems, going through a divorce from his wife and missing his two daughters, resulting in some what dysfunctional behaviour. It is in this setting that the patriarchal mother of the household (Margo Martindale, so natural & so brilliant she makes acting looks effortless) discovers she has a brain tumour, forcing the brothers together and the father to re- evaluate himself and the mistakes he may have made before its too late. A subplot involves John meeting his old flame who has now married high school friend turned hospital nurse (Charlie Day) who in turn is a bit of a dick. Will John resolve his own issues and see what is right in front of him, how will the father cope with his impending loss and can Ron find a peaceful solution to his messy divorce & cope with his wife's new love in the form of the affable local Priest (Nicely underplayed by Josh Groban) - Such are the dilemmas facing this familiar feeling family.

How dramas of this type work often depend on how engaging the characters are and connecting with them at an early stage. Krasinski cleverly never makes you like anyone in-particular too much or too little, tugging at the heart strings just right. Krasinski assembled a top notch group of actors here who clearly know their craft. This could have been a play on stage, but has enough drama to work well on screen. Copley plays a role very different from previous performances and handles the American accent with ease, while Kendrick proves she can handle a more demanding role outside of the Twilight Saga spectrum. Some characters feel a little underwritten, Ashley Dyke does well to make you notice her in a part with little characterisation, but essentially this is a film about The Hollars (Hence the title) and they are rightly the focus of the piece.

I have no doubt that Margo Martindale will be criminally under looked when it comes to award season for her role of the mother. One of those actresses who I have seen hundreds of times, has assured I will always know her name after this performance. The film may not break much new ground, but it is certainly among the best within its genre and fortunately, it wasn't set during Thanksgiving with a scene involving a turkey. Recommended.