“Hollidaysburg” is one of two movies made from the same screenplay as part of the Starz TV network’s filmmaker competition series, “The Chair.” (The other flick, “Not Cool,” played in L.A. last week.) Though “Hollidaysburg” may not break tons of new ground, it’s smart, warm and authentic — one of the better youth comedies of the last few years.
The script, credited to Dan Schoffer and directed by Anna Martemucci, deftly captures that defining moment when college freshmen return home for Thanksgiving only to realize how much has changed and what it’s time to leave behind.
The movie channels this evocative scenario through an engaging ensemble of slightly off-kilter late-teen characters, without pushing too hard or defaulting to excess glibness. It also takes an affecting glance at why some opt to stay on their home turf while others choose to exit.
With the cozy if unremarkable Hollidaysburg, Pa., as the film’s picturesque backdrop, we follow a group of recent high school grads as they reconnect — or attempt to — over the course of one quick, pivotal weekend. Sex, romance, friendship, quirky families, partying, pumpkin pie-making and more all enjoyably factor in as these former classmates face their “new normals” and the inevitable path to adulthood. It’s amusing, moving, well-played stuff.
The swell cast includes Tobin Mitnick as the popular Scott, now a UCLA transplant; Claire Chapelli as his conflicted girlfriend, Heather, who suddenly likes Scott’s weed-selling best bud, Petroff (Tristan Erwin); and Rachel Keller, delightful as the admittedly uncool but adorable Tori, who becomes Scott’s fleeting port in the storm.
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.
Playing at AMC’s Burbank Town Center 8.