Remember that movie Sideways from 19 years ago with Alexander Payne directing and Paul Giamatti starring? Well, they teamed up again for the new comedy The Holdovers, and let us tell you – it was worth the nearly 20-year wait!
Giamatti is fantastic, as always, playing one of three lost souls who end up bonding when they get stuck together over the holidays. Payne perfectly captures the look and feel of 70s movies, which fits the script perfectly. And Da’Vine Joy Randolph and newcomer Dominic Sessa also give great performances. The Holdovers is seriously one of the best movies this year – it’s sharply funny but also tugs at your heartstrings.
It takes place at a boarding school in New England in the early 70s. As everyone else leaves for Christmas break, grumpy history teacher Paul Hunham (played by Giamatti) has to watch the kids who can’t go home, including troubled but smart kid Angus Tully (played by Sessa). Helping out is Mary Lamb (played by Randolph), the school cook spending her first Christmas without her son, who recently died in Vietnam.
This movie totally reminds me of classic 70s films like Harold and Maude and MAS*H. Alexander Payne would’ve fit right in with famous directors back then, like Hal Ashby and Robert Altman. Payne nails the vibe of 70s movies – from the retro opening credits to the pacing that lets the story and characters shine but never drags.
The Holdovers instantly joins Payne’s other top movies like Election, Sideways, and Nebraska. It’s a throwback to when Hollywood made character-focused films that took their time but still kept you invested. Payne recreates that nostalgic feel of the 70s wonderfully through the look, tone, and pacing.
The Holdovers release date
The Holdovers had its big premiere at the Telluride Film Festival back on August 31st, 2023. It then had a limited theater release in the US on October 27.
Right now you can see The Holdovers in select theaters in New York and LA.
It opens more widely around the US on November 3rd, and will be playing everywhere by November 10th.
If you’re in the UK, you’ll have to wait til January 19, 2024, for The Holdovers to premiere near you.
So people in the US can go check out this great new comedy in theaters now or real soon. And UK fans just have to hold on a little longer before The Holdovers arrives across the pond in January. Definitely add this one to your must-see list!
The Holdovers release date trailer
The script by David Hemingson is fantastic – it’s hilarious but also gives the three main characters real depth. And the actors totally nail their roles.
Giamatti is pitch-perfect as the grumpy Hunham who looks down on others, but you can always see a warmth in him that makes you root for him. Giamatti got robbed of an Oscar nomination for Sideways, so here’s hoping the Academy doesn’t make the same mistake this time because he definitely deserves a Best Actor nomination.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who most people know from her comedy work like Only Murders in the Building and The Lost City, is heartbreaking as the grieving mom. She has a couple of scenes that wreck your emotions if you have any heart at all.
Newcomer Dominic Sessa holds his own with the veteran actors and is great as the troubled, lonely teen who just needs some kindness. He’s a fantastic find.
So with the strong script and next-level acting, The Holdovers tugs on your heartstrings while still making you laugh out loud. The cast has awesome chemistry and really dives deep into their layered characters.
"He's just a lovely guy, brilliant guy, most well-read human I know, and a delight to work with."
Alexander Payne, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa talk about working with Paul Giamatti in #TheHoldovers.
In select NY/LA theaters this Friday, everywhere November 10. pic.twitter.com/ngDzs8CiwM
— The Holdovers (@HoldoversFilm) October 25, 2023
Some other awesome things about The Holdovers – the soundtrack is fantastic. It has classic 70s hits but also some lesser-known songs that always fit the scene perfectly. And the pacing of the movie is great, which makes sense since Payne’s longtime editing partner, Kevin Tent, cut it together.
They just don’t make straightforward, adult comedies like this much anymore, which Payne has complained about. There’s no crazy gimmick – just a killer script, A-list acting, and a director who knows how to bring it all together into a perfect package.
The Holdovers is a throwback drama that takes its time and lets characters and moments breathe. It’s carried by the stellar cast and script. Payne returns to his indie comedy roots and knocks it out of the park. They truly don’t make ’em like this very often these days, which makes The Holdovers a real gem.