I don’t want to make a shameless corporate plug, but we need to speak in terms that all of us can relate to — so excuse the name brand promotion and rest assured I didn’t receive any sort of kickbacks or lifetime supply.
Lindt chocolate. The little Lindor ball ones that you eat most often around the holiday seasons (at least all the ones beside the dark chocolate in the blue wrappers). They’re great, they’re amazing — good enough that if you accidently dropped one on the ground and it rolled around you would likely pick it up, wipe the lint off your Lindt, and find it an enjoyable experience regardless. Now, imagine a few of those Lindt chocolate balls, blemished by lint, dirt, and cat hair dropped into a big mug of room temperature milk. That, ladies and gentlemen, is The Hollars, a 2016 comedy-drama starring and directed by John Krasinski (more widely known as Jim Halpert from NBC’s The Office) alongside Margo Martindale and Sharlto Copley. The story revolves around the son, John (played by John) who returns to his small-town family after his mother is diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The actors, they are the Lindt chocolate — great on their own, with an inherent charm and appeal that is better than the mediocrity of everything else involved in this production. John Krasinski, while bland, is the milk chocolate if you just view everything he does through the lens of it being the character Jim Halpert in an extended spin-off character episode. If you put too much stock in John Krasinski doing anything outside of his typecast role, you’ll be sorely disappointed; he’s an adult Michael Cera — great in his lane and not much else. The rest of the cast brings a little more enthusiasm, like those special holiday flavours for Valentine’s Day (strawberry and cream is delicious). If anyone is the dark chocolate it might be Sharlto Copley as John’s brother Ron (they also have a father named Don, I’m not sure if this was a conscious decision made by the writers) who, while talented in his own right, comes off as unstable, unoriginal, and with a struggling American accent. Just go watch District 9 again.
That room temperature milk? That’s the script and direction. Everything is played incredibly safe, it is every indie drama about a return to a dysfunctional family ever made but with more money spent on casting and less energy put into giving it an original or unique hook. Although it can still be effective during the more emotional parts, I won’t give it too much credit because I also get teary-eyed during commercials or Wrestlemania.