‘Holiday Hostage’: The perfect movie for your entire dysfunctional family to watch together this Thanksgiving
Wholesome entertainment is what you look forward to on holidays you spend with family. Movies that do not divide the whole family while also distract from real-world problems each member has an opposing opinion on – that's the sweet spot. If that’s what you’re looking for, Abby Walla and David Storch’s ‘Holiday Hostage’ would not even make your “maybe list”, but, its brilliantly devious plot is what makes it a must-watch this holiday season.
The movie narrates the shocking turn of events at the home of a Jewish family during Thanksgiving dinner – an event most of us are forced to be a part of - and how an intruder forces them all to come clean on who they really are. Writers Storch and Walla reveal it is their own dysfunctional yet loving families that inspired them to write this contorted tale of (forced) togetherness. “There was a ton of material there,” Walla told Meaww.
Walla added: “We also loved the idea of a family being stuck in one place together so it’s a bit of a pressure cooker situation and the longer it goes on, the more family truths and conflicts come out.” The pressure cooker situation is, as expected, created by the overprotective Jewish mother stereotype, portrayed by Maggie Wheeler of ‘Friends’ fame. Spoiler alert: She does say “Oh my God,” but not the way you itch to hear it.
Wheeler is the star of the movie. In her overbearing form of love, she has nurtured resentment within her children. This perfect balance of loving and annoying could not have been portrayed better by anyone other than Wheeler, who Storch and Walla claim has become their mom off-camera as well. Now the duo has three mothers, complete with their own two, who have come to see their offspring’s friend as their own child.
In fact, the depiction of each flawed family member, including Bunny Levine’s Grandma and Don Stark’s Gary are spot-on. “From the beginning, we knew we wanted it to be an ensemble piece with veteran actors,” said Walla. “So, we purposefully did our best to make all the characters appealing to play, so we could lure in amazing talent like Maggie, Don, and Bunny! Working with them was a dream come true because we grew up watching them on our favorite shows. And, they all blew us away not just with their talent, but because they are the most incredible and kind people to work with.”
These veteran actors, captured the essence of their characters beautifully, which lead to a believable dynamic between each of the family members, all of whom were "pulled from our personal lives,” said Storch “We just exaggerated certain family members, friends, and situations to make it more ‘crazy town.’”
The funniest aspect about ‘Holiday Hostage’ is probably Levine, who the writing duo claims may very well be the funniest person on earth. Her dialogue delivery and body language set her high above her peers. Storch quipped, “Someone once said, Tracy Morgan could read a phone book and make it funny. That's Bunny Levine. All of her lines were scripted, but she brought them to a whole new level. Her timing and delivery are impeccable and she definitely gets the biggest laughs in the film.”
Walla recalls how despite co-writing the dialogues and hearing Storch deliver them a hundred times, Levine would always surprise her with her lines. “By the time we filmed, I’d read the words a million times and she’d still catch me by surprise with her delivery,” she said. In fact, it is impossible to work with the veterans in their movie and not ruin takes by laughing. “Especially Don,” said Storch, adding the former ‘That 70s Show' star loves making his co-stars laugh. Walla added, “Don is the best/worse to play opposite! I always hoped I was off camera during his parts because he slayed me.”
To say Storch and Walla had a dream team to work on their baby would be an understatement. They had the perfect captain to sail their ship in D.W. Moffett, probably best known for his work on ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘Switched at Birth.’ Walla related: “I had the chance to work with D.W. on ABC Family’s ‘Switched at Birth’ in an episode he directed (and starred in) and we hit it off immediately. He’s a true actor’s director and I was taken aback by how funny he is, even in directing a drama. So, when the time came for us to find a director for Holiday Hostage, D.W. was at the top of our wish list!”
Storch added that Moffett respected their vision as the creators of ‘Holiday Hostage.’ “The first time we met with him for a meeting, he said, ‘This is your baby, I totally see your vision, I may be directing, but you two are in charge,’" Storch said, adding that being headed by the veteran meant the world to both of them.
He continued, “We trusted D.W. from the start. He had some really fun ideas to bring the script to life that Abby and I hadn't thought of, and when we were actually shooting, he would see shots we hadn't thought of before and say, ‘What if we do this?!"’ and they were brilliant.”
'Holiday Hostage’ is a promising movie that ensures a good time, probably leaving you feeling light-hearted and happy. But more importantly, it promises you more great work from Storch and Walla, who are aspiring to be the next Tina Fey and Amy Poehler respectively. Much remains to be seen from these young filmmakers and I can hardly wait. As soon as you watch ‘Holiday Hostage’ you will share my sentiments too.
Visit www.HolidayHostage.com to find out which film festivals the film will be screening at, and when the film will be widely released.