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Film / The Hollars

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"Don't waste your time on the bad. Live with the good."

"It's terrifying to find out this late in your life what you should have done."

The Hollars is a 2016 dramedy film directed by John Krasinski and written by James C. Strouse.

John Hollar (Krasinski), a struggling graphic novelist living in New York City, is forced to come back to his hometown after his mother Sally (Margo Martindale) has a brain tumor, and joins his father Don (Richard Jenkins) and brother Ron (Sharlto Copley) to stay by her side.

Besides Sally's brain tumor, the rest of the family has their own personal problems: Don's business is failing and about to go into bankruptcy, John is about to have a child with his girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick), and Ron wants to reignite his relationship with his ex-wife Stacey (Ashley Dyke), even though she has a new boyfriend, Dan (Josh Groban).

The film also stars Charlie Day, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Randall Park.

This film contains examples of:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Don calls Sally "chief" multiple times.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: As they're purchasing a casket for Sally's funeral, the family learns that all their expenses have been paid for. John immediately figures out that it's Rebecca, and Don later thanks her for the gesture.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end, the family rushes Rebecca to the hospital as she's about to give birth, showing that despite their hardships, their lives are far from over.
  • Basement-Dweller: After getting fired from his dad's company, Ron lives at his parents' house.
  • Big Applesauce: John and Rebecca both live in New York City, and a few scenes are shown there.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Rebecca goes into labor during Sally's funeral.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sally dies, but the rest of the family are much closer now. While the fate of Don's business is unclear and he's still working a second job, Ron agrees to work there until it can hopefully get back on its feet. Ron and Stacey remain divorced, but are on good terms and Ron is now friends with Dan. John and Rebecca get married, and Rebecca ends up going into labor, allowing for new life even though Sally is gone.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • John mentions that Rebecca can afford her apartment because she has a lot of money due to her rich parents. As such, when all the expenses for Sally's funeral have been anonymously paid for, it doesn't take long for John to know who did it.
    • Dan's occupation as a pastor comes in handy for when John and Rebecca get married.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Sally's nurse just happens to be the guy who married John's ex-girlfriend.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Averted. Even though Ron has feelings for Stacey, they still remain divorced by the end of the movie, though they are more amicable with each other.
  • Everytown, America: Wherever it is, the town that John grew up in is a fairly typical and unremarkable American small town.
  • Family Theme Naming: The males of the Hollar family are Don, Ron, and John.
  • Family Title: Named after the Hollar family, of course.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Ron is the foolish to John's responsible. John, despite his struggling career as a writer, has a stable office job, a loving girlfriend, and a good standing in life, while Ron has no job, lives with his parents, and has been divorced for the past five years. John is also more mature than Ron is. Ironically, John is the younger sibling.
  • Forceful Kiss: Gwen kisses John after he comes over for dinner once her husband Jason is out of sight. John's not okay with it, but can't actually do anything about it.
  • Happily Married: Even though Sally might've had second thoughts about marrying Don, she later admits that she's lived a long and happy life with him, and they love each other dearly.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: It's implied that Jason and Gwen only married because Gwen was pregnant. They're clearly not happy together and are only still married for their daughter's sake. To complicate matters, Gwen still has feelings for John, which Jason may or may not be aware of.
  • Hope Spot: Sally's surgery is a success and her brain tumor is removed...and then she suddenly flatlines and ends up passing away.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even though he's immature, has a lot of glaring flaws, and gets away with a lot of things, Ron is overall well-meaning and loves his family, especially his daughters.
  • Karma Houdini: Despite frequently going to Stacey's house to spy on her via binoculars, presumably violating custody rules by taking his daughters to visit Sally without Stacey knowing, and sneaking into her house, the most Ron really gets is getting chewed out by Stacey. He does get arrested for trespassing, but Dan bails him out almost immediately after.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Since John isn't in contact with his family that often (he simply doesn't use his phone very much), the other family members have to catch him up about things, such as Jason and Gwen getting married, the state of Don's business, etc.
  • Naughty Birdwatching: Ron likes to spy on his ex-wife by driving up to her house and using binoculars to see what she's doing, which apparently happens frequently.
  • Nice Guy:
    • John is a polite, mild-mannered guy who loves his family and girlfriend dearly.
    • Even though Ron doesn't like him, Dan is clearly a good man who's willing to forgive Ron once he sees how much he loves his kids, and makes an effort to genuinely befriend him.
  • Maternity Crisis: Rebecca goes into labor during Sally's funeral, interrupting John mid-speech and causing him and the family to rush to the hospital so she can give birth on time.
  • My Own Private "I Do": While it's not exactly secret, John and Rebecca's marriage is a spontaneous, private affair.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: John and Sally "sneak out" of the hospital so that she can have a good meal for once, much to Jason's bemusement.
  • Running Gag: A minor one, but a few characters refer to John's unborn child as a bastard or ask how he feels about having a bastard, since he and his girlfriend are not married.
  • Shout-Out: Jason and Gwen named their daughter Quinn after the titular character from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, something that Jason seems to regret.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: In-universe, John initially confuses Jason and Gwen's daughter for a boy, since she's a baby with a gender-neutral name.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Sally has a fondness for pretzels and ice cream. Jason ends up trying it and admits that it's not a bad combination.
  • Wham Line: A small one. When John asks one of the hospital nurses about his kid, she says that their vitals are fine. This clues John in, and he finds out from Rebecca that they're having twins.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Gwen only appears in one scene, and her fate following that scene is unknown. Will she and Jason split up, or will they stay together as a bitter couple for their daughter's sake while Gwen forever pines for a guy she knows she can't be with?
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Ron calls out Don for not taking Sally to the hospital when she'd showed symptoms of having a brain tumor beforehand and just brushing it off.
    • Stacey gives a well-deserved one to Ron after he takes their daughters to see Sally, telling him that that was an unacceptable thing to do and that he shouldn't have the nerve to think that they can get back together when he was the one who wanted to divorce her.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The location of the small town where most of the film is set in is never actually specified, only that it's an eight-hour drive from New York City.note 
  • With Catlike Tread: John isn't exactly great at sneaking Sally out of the hospital.