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Posts Tagged ‘Margo Martindale’

John Krasinski, Margo Martindale

John Krasinski, Margo Martindale

“THE HOLLARS” My rating: C+

98 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

John Krasicki’s strengths as an actor — a sly sense of humor, emotional openess, a charitable view toward his own and other actors’ characters — are also on display in his feature film directing debut.

But despite a cast to die for and some heartfelt sentiment, “The Hollars” is a near miss, a movie in which everything seems just a degree or two out of whack.

Jim Strauss’s screenplay is yet another dysfunctional family dramedy.

Illness in the family brings NYC office drone John Hollar (Krasinksi) back to his middle American hometown. He leaves behind his pregnant girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) and a dead-end job — what he really wants to do is write and illustrate graphic novels.

Ma Hollar (Margo Martindale) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Even with that against her she shows more common sense than the menfolk of her clan, who are more or less eccentric idiots.

Dad Hollar (Richard Jenkins) lives in an emotional bubble of denial. Whenever he steps out of that bubble he collapses in tears. And he’s run the family’s plumbing business into the ground, forcing him to fire his oldest son Ron (Shallot Copley), who now lives in the basement.

Ron is a near-moron who is stalking the ex-wife with whom he has two little girls. And he harbors some absurd notions about minorities (he assumes that his mother’s surgeon, an Asian American, must be a master of at least one martial art).

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Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston

“MOTHER’S DAY”  My rating: C- 

118 minutes  | MPAA rating: PG-13

Like its predecessors — “Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve” and the inexplicably adored  “Love Actually”  — “Mother’s Day” is low-risk, high-profit drek.

From a film producer’s point of view it’s a no brainer.  Take a half dozen interlacing plots on a central theme, populate them with big names (none of whom have to work too hard, since each is on screen for only a few minutes), pave the way with lightweight comedy and wrap it all up with a saccharine coda.

Jason Sudiekis

Jason Sudeikis

Plus, it’s a lazy moviegoer’s dream come true. There’s no commitment required because the enterprise is pure dramatic shorthand. No character or narrative arc is sustained  long enough to be anything more than a blip, and the film delivers a sentimental rush without the viewer having to invest anything.

In other words, emotional porn.

The latest from director Garry Marshall and his team of writers (Tom Hines, Lily Hollander, Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker) follows a group of Atlanta residents as they look forward to — what else? — Mother’s Day.

Divorcee Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is all abother because her ex (Timothy Olyphant) has wed a trophy gal half his age…and now this new stepmom is a favorite of Sandy’s two young boys.

Sisters Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) live next door to each other and are happily estranged from their domineering and hopelessly prejudiced mother. Jesse has married an East Indian M.D. (Asaif Mandvi), while Gabi is in a same-sex relationship.

Wouldn’t you know it?  Their covers are blown when unsuspecting Mom (the great Margo Martindale) and Dad (Robert Pine) come swooping down in their RV to share Mother’s Day with the girls. (more…)

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Julianne Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts

Julianne Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts

“AUGUST:  OSAGE COUNTY”  My rating: C+ (Opens wide on Jan. 10)

121 minutes | MPAA rating R

Some stories were meant to be performed on a stage.

For instance, the plays of Sam Shepard, which deliver moments of violence and affrontery you almost never see in live theater. A Shepard character might be required to beat a typewriter to death with a golf club, smash dozens of glass bottles just feet from the folks in the front row, or urinate on his little sister’s science project in full view of the paying customers.

If those things happened in a movie, you’d shrug. No big deal.  In a movie you can do anything.

But seeing those moments play out live, in the flesh, while you brace yourself to dodge flying glass shards or broken typewriter keys…well, that has a way of focusing your mind most wonderfully.

I thought of Shepard’s plays while watching John Wells’ screen version of “August: Osage County,” Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer-winning black comedy about an Oklahoma clan assembled to bury its patriarch (played, ironically enough, by  Sam Shepard).  In the same way that Shepard’s  plays almost never make satisfying movies, “August: Osage County” makes an uncomfortable transition to the screen.

First, don’t buy into the TV ads that make it look like a rollicking comedy.  There are laughs here, yeah, but they’re the sort of laughs you can choke on. Dourness is the order of the day.

In adapting his play Letts has boiled a 3 1/2 hour production down to 2 hours. Stuff’s been left out — character development, carefully calibrated pauses — and while the essence of the play remains, it feels curiously underwhelming.

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