New Zealand trailer and release date for The Holdovers

The last time actor Paul Giamatti and director Alexander Payne collaborated was all the way back in 2004, and the result was the sublime and boozy Sideways and a veritable slew of awards and nominations. So, while it might have taken almost 20 years, we are breathlessly excited for their reteaming in the upcoming The Holdovers, which hits cinemas on January 11, 2024.

Written by David Hemingson and set in the ‘70s, The Holdovers sees former Amazing Spider-Man 2 villain and ape Giamatti as Paul Hunham, a curmudgeonly and much-reviled history teacher at an elite boarding school, who finds himself lumbered with an unenviable task—keeping an eye on the small group of students stuck at the school for the Christmas holidays – the holdovers of the title.

One student in particular is giving him grief-troubled youth Angus (Dominic Sessa). The two seem natural antagonists, but when it’s revealed that Angus is stuck at school due to a family tragedy, an opportunity for meaningful connection between the two arises. Midwifing this nascent mentor/mentee relationship is school cook Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), who is dealing with her own grief—her soldier son was recently killed in action in the Vietnam War.

Payne, who previously gave us Election, About Schmidt, The Descendants, and Nebraska, is at his best when he’s combining dry, observational humour with genuine insight into the human condition, and it looks like we’re getting that in spades here. There’s definitely a little Dead Poets Society flavour in the mix, or perhaps Finding Forrester (remember that one?), or the grizzled mentor/gifted student movie of your choice. Plus, it’s been far too long since we had a new Alexander Payne movie—the ambitious but little-loved sci-fi Downsizing, which is well worth another spin in our opinion, was a good six years ago. So, we’ll definitely be showing up for this seasonal dramedy.