What Is Everyone Seeing in The Holdovers??

What Is Everyone Seeing in The Holdovers??
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What Is Everyone Seeing in The Holdovers?? Apparently this is going to be a hot take post… though, that is really surprising to me. But I mean, LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS? They are incredible!

96% of the film critics love this film? I mean, maybe if I do a deep dive on the film, I’ll come around on all the issues that I had while watching the film… in time. BUT I DOUBT IT. Let’s go through it, shall we? First of all, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to before you continue reading. This post will include a bunch of spoilers. But as I’m not enamored with the movie… whatever. You do you boo.

The Holdovers Story

You’ve seen this story before. It’s different, and yet, the exact same. A group of kids are left behind for detention… no, sorry, for Christmas break (no offense intended, Breakfast Club) because their families are all otherwise indisposed for various heartbreaking reasons. Cue the violins please. And to this list of 4? Add one late breaking invite to the party – Angus. One moment he was headed to Saint Kitts with his mother and new father… next thing he knows, he’s being left out and his parents are now going on a “honeymoon” without him.

As the story unfolds, The Pentaverate get up to your standard private school student shenanigans. We learn a little bit more about the different students and their particular familial situations.

The Holdovers – First the Good

OMG I ADORED the design aesthetic of this movie. The retro throwback titles? GAH!! SO GOOD. The color filtering, the title treatments, the intro signage and warnings? My mouth was watering from two seconds in. The added pop and hiss of the old 30 millimeter film effects? As if the film took the journey to actual film negative at some point in its journey and then digitized and streamed! (Hahaha. no.. no it never did.) The trailers prior to the release did exactly the same thing too – it’s as if, part of the marketing campaign was to own the fact that this story is basically an 80’s/90’s rip off – like a Dead Poet’s Society, Finding Forrester, School Ties, or Colors?

I also really thought that there were moments of real brilliance, acting wise, as illustrated by the pile of Emmy’s and Golden Globes these actors have received. I particularly was enamored with Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s portrayal of the grief ridden Mary Lamb. Some of the younger cast members felt a bit like they were reading off of cue cards occasionally, but overall, the acting performances were pretty stellar. So kudos there.

The Meh… And This Might Be On Me

I am going to admit, that with this film absolutely blowing up the Globes, and the Emmy’s etc… heck all of award’s season, I expected A LOT from this film. And don’t worry, I’ve already heard it all from the THiNC. Discord server folks. They’ve already done their worst. But I still have to get this out there… this screenplay was a mess. Weighing in at 133 minutes, I gotta say that this screenplay could have been seriously tightened up. There were a lot of really irrelevant bits of chaos that were never resolved. And I’m just asking the question – couldn’t they have ditched all the other four students? Why were they there? To have them there and then helicoptered out seemed really silly to me. Yes, rich people. I get it. But, I mean, from a storytelling standpoint it makes no sense whatsoever.

The movie buried the lede – and we lost the real resolution in that the movie is actually about the revelation that Hunham hated the institution and the affluent folks that left him to rot with a cheating wrap that he didn’t do. Right? I saw that, I get it… but it seemed like the clarity of that revelation was sort of lost in the fray. AHH, so you hate everyone because you were the fall guy for some rich kid at some point. Got it.

Worse? Angus’ parents are mad about what? I mean, they got upset because the school took him to visit his insane biological father? I mean, really? And all because he apparently gave the guy a snow globe? Which, we never saw him give. Did we? It was sort of inserted after the fact to give evidence as to why it actually mattered. And Angus’ mother is going to have to move him because he became violent? Kindergartners, sure. (Ask me one day and I’ll tell you the story of a friend whose son destroyed 3 TVs at 3 different schools… yeah. Talk about a parenting bad day.)

It’s almost like the film had to trump up a reason for the professor to get in trouble, so that he could intervene on Angus’ behalf. Oh, wait, that is EXACTLY what the screenplay writer did, but David Hemingson? I’m looking at you, buddy. I’m excited you are getting your big break… but I’m sorry, this screenplay is all over the place.

If it were my script? I would have made Angus poor, just like Hunham was. I would have ditched the other students, and I would have made it extremely awkward between this one student who is abandoned at the school and this one teacher that is also being punished for failing students. But instead of the initial intra-kid chaos, I would have had Angus trying unsuccessfully to get off the campus. And eventually, Hunham actually gets Angus to turn the corner scholastically and so he decides to take him to visit his father’s grave. Etc. But instead of the big fallout being a snow globe and chaos with a visit to a dad in a mental institution, I would have made it about Angus’ breaking out, stealing a car, in order to try and make the trip happen. The authorities are there, his parents are there, and Hunham steps up and clears his name in order to give the kid a future. But it turns out that the headmaster knows he’s lying and he gets fired. Or something like that. And voila, in literally 30 seconds of brainstorming I just came up with a more coherent movie that could have been told in 90 minutes.

Final Thoughts on The Holdovers

Please, tell me how wrong I am in the comments. Trust me, negative comments put a smile on my face. But, please, understand before you do that my larger point isn’t that the movie isn’t bad, it’s just not as good as the awards season is attempting to give it credit for. That’s all, that’s my only point. I’m glad that you loved The Holdovers. I am. I am not trying to take that away from you. Promise. But if it had been me, I would have forced edits on this particular script and I wouldn’t have taken a no for an answer.