Vol. 17, No. 11 – Feb 21 – Mar 5, 2024 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
The Holdovers – Peacock & Rent or Buy

4 out of 4 palm trees

The Holdovers is set in winter 1970 at Barton Academy, an exclusive all-boys boarding school in New England where classics professor Paul Hunham (Palu Giamatti) was saddled with the responsibility of looking after the few students that have nowhere to go during the Christmas break. Originally Hunham thought he would be there with the school’s cafeteria manager and four boys, but as Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa) waited on the steps with his bags packed ready to go he received a call from his mother that she and her new husband were taking their overdue honeymoon during the holidays and that he would have to remain at school during the break.

The other four boys didn’t know each other and were from various ages and backgrounds, but included Teddy Kountze (Brady Hepner), Angus’s enemy that he had just belittled about being left behind before finding himself in the same situation. Though the boys all thought they would be having a kick-back vacation, Hunham had other plans including regularly studying and exercising as if school was still in session. Also staying for the break was cafeteria manager Mary Lamb (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) who recently lost her son Curtis who attended Barton and joined the military to pay for college, but was killed in the Vietnam War.

Hunham’s general attitude was that the students at Barton were very spoiled and entitled, and felt it was his responsibility to not only educate them, but to help shape their moral character to help them grow up to be men of worth in the world. Due to the fact that many of the boys came from rich families with few boundaries, this was a huge task Hunham sought to accomplish through a strict attitude, causing him to not be liked by basically everyone in the school. Though Angus did well with his grades in Hunham’s class, he was constantly trying Hunham’s will and patience and this bad attitude only grew now that Angus unexpectedly had to spend the break with Hunham.

After six days, the father of one of the boys arrived in his private helicopter, inviting the other four boys to join them on a ski trip for the break. Hunham contacted the headmaster for authorization and then contacted the parents for permission, but unfortunately he was unable to reach Angus’ parents. This left just Hunham, Mary and Angus at the school until after the new year which made Angus even more angry and rebellious. During an act of defiance, Angus injured his shoulder in the gym, requiring Hunham to take him to the hospital. Hunham was concerned for his job, but to his surprise Angus covered for him and they kept the situation just between the two “Barton men”.

Hunham had a heart-felt moment at their shared Christmas dinner and offered to do whatever he could to make Angus’ or Mary’s holiday break better. Angus asked to go to Boston and Hunham initially said no, but eventually agreed after clearing it as a field trip with the headmaster. Angus had always told everyone his father died, but he was actually in a mental hospital in Boston, which unknown to Hunham was the true reason for his request. They traveled to Boston and went to a theater where Angus tried to sneak out during the movie, but when Hunham caught him and discovered the truth, he agreed to go with Angus to visit his father. Neither knew what major future implications this would create, putting their credo of “Barton men” to the test again.

The perfectly timed, clever, comedic dialog between the main characters keeps viewers laughing throughout the film, while also at other times brilliantly lightens the burden of some difficult scenarios. The film has won two awards for Supporting Actress Da’Vine Joy Randolph at the Golden Globe and British Academy Film Awards. For the 96th Academy Awards, “The Holdovers” received five nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Runtime: 2h 13m

Print Friendly, PDF & Email