At first glance, The Holdovers doesn’t seem like it’s going to be your holiday go-to movie this year. The basic premise seems a bit, not as Christmasy as you would expect. A movie set in 1970 that follows a prep school teacher who is tasked with staying over the holiday break with students who can’t go home for the holidays. But, as the movie goes on, it not only will warm your heart but will have you looking forward to adding it to your holiday movie playlist this year.
The movie isn’t just set in 1970, it is shot and given the feel of a 70s period movie as well. We’re not looking at super crisp CGI or film, and there seems to be a bit of grain to the overall shots which makes it feel like it wasn’t just something that was shot last week. Even the graphics and opening sequence have a bit of nostalgic age to them bringing a bit of age to the story.
The movie follows Prep School teacher Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti) over the holiday break between semesters when he is tasked to babysit five students who have nowhere to go over the holiday season. Hunham’s odd behaviors, lack of social skills, and inability to have fun quickly is challenged by teenage boys who want nothing more than to relax and have fun over their break. When lucky arrives and four of the students are whisked off on a skiing trip, Hunham finds himself left alone in the school with one student Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa), and the school cook who stayed behind over the break Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). All battling their own demons, the three find an unlikely bond over the break, and Hunham and Tully find that they may not be as different as they think.
While The Holdovers is rated R, there’s nothing truly objectionable in the movie. There are some more serious moments and some brief bits of photographs showing nudity, and some cursing. But overall, the movie doesn’t seem to have a lot of reasons that a whole family (with older kids) couldn’t watch and enjoy the movie. It’s heartfelt, has a deeper message, and will have you questioning just how much more alike you are with other people than you know. It seems like an unlikely holiday movie and message, but it actually resonates more than most of the overly commercialized holiday movies we see streaming non-stop this time of year.
Easily relatable, The Holdovers is in short, probably one of the best movies we’ve seen on the screen this year. The genuine connection between the characters, the story telling and the non-reliance on technology to make it bigger and better than every other blockbuster. It’s simply a good movie with a good story – and something that we haven’t seen a lot of in several years.
The Holdovers in in theaters everywhere this weekend.
About The Holdovers
The Holdovers follows a curmudgeonly instructor (Paul Giamatti) at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during Christmas break to babysit the handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually he forms an unlikely bond with one of them — a damaged, brainy troublemaker (newcomer Dominic Sessa) — and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).
Directed by Alexander Payne
Starring Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa, Tate Donovan, Carrie Preston, Gillian Vigman, Michael Provost, and Brady Hepner