Quirky ‘The Hollars’ pulls up lame

September 8, 2016 GMT

John Krasinski’s comedy drama “The Hollars” is a full-blown mega-assault of quirkiness.

It’s the type of movie in which a grown son still hides his smoking from his mother; a father and son get into a silly slappy fight; a divorced man pulls up in his car at his ex-wife’s house and obviously looks through binoculars yet is surprised when he is caught; and mad dashes in wheelchairs in hospital corridors include feel-good pop music in the background.

Krasinski, best known for American TV series “The Office” and who recently starred in Michael Bay’s Benghazi thriller “13 Hours,” is John Hollar, a comic-book artist in New York who hasn’t checked in with his Ohio brood for so long that when a family emergency arises, his father calls John’s pregnant girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick), instead.

With the news of his mother’s brain tumor, John travels back to small-town Ohio, where father Don Hollar (Richard Jenkins) runs a failing heating and plumbing business and has just fired his other son, Ron Hollar (Sharlto Copley), who lives in his parents’ basement after the demise of his marriage. Mom Sally Hollar (Margo Martindale) is sick, but she’s the one who keeps the family from falling apart.

During the week leading up to brain surgery, John reconnects with his family, his ex-girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), whose husband (Charlie Day) is Sally’s passive-aggressive nurse, and struggles with communication issues with Rebecca. Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”) is Sally’s surgeon, and singer Josh Groban is Ron’s ex-wife’s perfect boyfriend.

Working from Jim Strouse’s script, director Krasinski, who previously directed the 2009 comedy drama “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men,” seems to think a quirky movie requires broad quirkiness in every single scene. The film struggles so hard to be funny that the comic potential is diluted. In fact, sometimes it seems downright bland. Fortunately, the movie is somewhat watchable because of the excellent cast, Krasinski included.

Occasionally, “The Hollars” arrives at a true moment. In the hospital, John asks his mom if she ever had any regrets about her marriage.

“Oh, yeah, big time,” she says. She means it - but we realize she would do it all over again.

We can feel her pain.