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The Holdovers | 2023 | R | – 5.3.8

content-ratingsWhy is “The Holdovers” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “language, some drug use and brief sexual material.” The evaluation includes one scene that shows bare breasts in a magazine, discussions about romance and sexuality, a few kissing scenes, one visible shoulder injury, several arguments and shouting, discussions of the death of loved ones, alcohol and marijuana use, and 36 F-words and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.

A grouchy professor (Paul Giamatti) at a private boy’s academy, along with a school cafeteria worker (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) who is grieving the loss of her son, must stay at the school over the winter break to care for students who have nowhere to go during the holidays. Also with Dominic Sessa. Directed by Alexander Payne. [Running Time: 2:13]

The Holdovers SEX/NUDITY 5

 – A teen boy reads a pornographic magazine; we see him open the magazine to a nude image of a woman (her breasts are visible) and an article titled “kinky tales.” In a museum, we see a piece of pottery with an explicit depiction of a man and woman having sex (part of the male genitals are visible). A teen boy wears a bathrobe in several scenes; in one of the scenes, his bathrobe is open and he is wearing boxer shorts (his bare chest and abdomen are visible). A teen boy at a distance wears a towel around his waist and his bare chest and abdomen are visible. A teen boy gets out of a shower stall and we see his bare upper body. A young boy at a party is shown wearing a button-up shirt and no pants; we see him wearing underwear.
 A man enters a house during a party and a woman kisses him passionately. A teen boy and teen girl kiss briefly at a party. A woman kisses a man on the cheek while they stand under mistletoe; she then wipes lipstick off his cheek. A man kisses a woman on the cheek after a New Year’s countdown. A man and woman kiss on a New Year’s television program.
 In several scenes, a woman briefly touches a man’s shoulder and knee. A man flirts with a woman, hugging her and telling her that she has a beautiful smile. In several scenes, teens look suggestively or flirtatiously at each other. A man touches a woman’s hand supportively; she complains that his hand is sweaty.
 A man tells a woman, “You’re a very sweet person.” A teen girl asks a teen boy if he is trying to look down her shirt; he says yes. A teen boy complains about leaving a party, saying he was “hitting it off” with a girl. A prostitute propositions a man, asking if he wants a date; in referring to the teen boy that’s with him, she says, “He doesn’t mind if daddy wants a little candy cane,” and the man rejects the proposition. A man tells a teen boy that “Sex is 99% friction; 1% goodwill” and that he values physical intimacy. A teen boy teases another boy about his swimsuit, asking, “What are you doing with women’s underwear?” and saying, “They look like panties”; the other teen responds that “They’re your mother’s panties, tell her thanks for the good times.” A teen boy accuses another teen of stealing his cigarettes to trade them for a “skin mag” and the other teen responds, “I don’t indulge in pornography because I get enough of the real thing from your mom.” A teen tells another teen that a man was “probably [sexual/scatological term excluded] in a Cobb salad.” A teen tells another teen to let a third boy “…have his pot and porn.” A teen asks a younger boy (who is Mormon) if it is true that “Mormons wear magic underwear.” A teenager says that he is glad a certain teacher is not supervising them over a holiday break, because “He would be perving all over” the students. A teacher refers to Romans “bathing naked in the freezing Tiber” when students complain about the cold. A man and a woman discuss marriage. A man states that he was almost married once, until he and a woman “came to their senses.” A man states that he likes being alone and that his face “was not forged for romance”; a woman refers to the fact that he smells bad as part of the reason that he is not married. A man says he is “forgoing sensual pleasures for achievement of spiritual goals.” In several scenes, people watch “The Newlywed Game” on television and joke about divorce and a woman hating her husband. A teen boy calls a woman “pretty attractive” and a man scolds him saying that the woman “does not deserve your erotic speculation.” A teen boy tells a man that he has chemistry with a woman. A woman jokes about a man having “a really groovy beard.” A teen boy accuses a man of “being afraid of women.” A woman jokingly calls another woman “a wicked woman” when she says she will take a tray of brownies for a party to her nightstand. A teen boy tells a man, “You’ve never had sex, have you?” A man tells a teen boy that “there was a time when the fire of my loins burned white-hot” and that he has stories that would “curl your toes.” A man discusses “debauchery” and pornography in history with a teen boy.

The Holdovers VIOLENCE/GORE 3

 – Two boys shout at each other (one says the other is “a little boy who misses his mommy”), and the shouting escalates to a fight; the boys wrestle and punch each other until a teacher stops them (there are no visible injuries).
 A teen boy does a gymnastic flip and falls onto a gym floor; we hear him scream in pain and later see him crying, holding the arm like it is broken, and he lies about the source of his injury, saying he slipped and fell on ice. A man takes a teen boy to the hospital; we see the teen without a shirt (his bare torso visible) and his shoulder is visibly dislocated; a doctor and a nurse pop the teen’s shoulder back in its socket; the teen gasps and screams in pain and we hear a pop (we later see the teen with his arm in a sling).
 A teen boy aggressively pulls a younger boy’s glove off his hand and throws it in a river, saying, “That’s what you get for ratting me out, you little Mormon”; the younger boy is visibly upset and angrily throws his other glove in the water. A teen boy returns a stolen photo to another teen boy; we see that the first boy has written an expletive insult on the photo with an arrow pointing to the image of the second boy. An inebriated woman yells at a man, “Don’t touch that [religious profanity deleted] record”; another man tries to calm her down and she orders him to get another drink. A man tries to comfort a crying woman; she pushes his hands away and tells him to back off, raising her fists.
 A teacher startles students awake by clanging together metal bedpans; he then has them run outside for exercise in the cold and snow. A teacher slams his hands down on a table and screams at a student to shut up. A teen boy sneaks into a teacher’s room while he is sleeping and steals a set of keys. A man and woman pour alcohol on cherries and ice cream in a box and then light it on fire; they are alarmed when the fire gets bigger and laugh while they try to put the fire out. A teen boy and a man light a cherry bomb in a kitchen as a celebration; we hear an explosion and see a flash of light (we do not see any damage).
 After hearing a man tell a story about hitting someone with his car, another man jokingly calls him “Killer.” A teen boy threatens another teen boy with a “full on [anatomical term deleted] punch.” People argue in several scenes. Teens discuss the fear of being kicked out of school and sent to a military academy. A teacher threatens students with detention and requiring them to clean up “snot and gum and unspeakable proteins” as well as “desiccated cockroach [anatomical term deleted].” In several scenes, people tell a man that everyone hates him, or ask him if he is aware that people hate him. A mother tells a man that when her son was the man’s student, “he hated you” and “thought you were a real [anatomical term deleted].” A man refers to a group of teen boys as “broken in body and spirit.” A man threatens a teen that “I will wash my hands of you.” A man makes a joke about a teen boy needing “a swift kick in the [anatomical term deleted].” A teen gets into an argument with two men; one has a hook for a hand (it is implied that he is a veteran who lost his hand in combat). A man discusses the Vietnam War, mentioning “boys getting their hands blown off.” A teen says that he was “wrongly accused of blowing up a toilet.” A man says, “I don’t have to do anything but pay taxes and die.” A woman discusses the death of her fiancé, saying that he was hit in the head by a cargo pallet and killed. In several scenes, a woman discusses the death of her 18-year-old son, who was killed while in military service; she describes him as being “in the cold ground.” In several scenes, people refer to dead parents or children. A man tells a story about hitting another man with his car, which he claims was an accident; he says the victim broke three ribs and “[scatological term deleted] himself.” A man committed to a sanatorium tells a teen boy that he suspects staff is putting something in his food. In several scenes, people discuss a mentally ill man becoming angry and violent. A man states that a mentally ill man “tried to brain an orderly” with a snow globe. A man discusses his father trying to beat an idea into him when he was young. A boy wakes up in the night crying, telling an older boy that he had a nightmare; the older boy describes that he has nightmares of falling or drowning. A woman says that she is suffering from a “cocktail flu” (a hangover). A boy tells an older boy that he “had an accident” (implying that he wet the bed) and the older boy tells him that if the other kids find out, they’ll “crucify” him; the older boy mutters “[F-word deleted] asparagus,” implying that the room smells like urine.
 In one scene, we see a memorial wall for soldiers who died in “The Great War”; we see several bricks with names, dates of death, and descriptions of where they died (including “killed in France” and “lost at sea”). A priest discusses the death of a young soldier during a service and offers condolences to his mother; we see a memorial photo of the deceased young man. Several students and a teacher are surprised by loud helicopter sounds; they look outside to see a helicopter land near the school (it is implied that the helicopter was sent by one teen’s father).
 A man stumbles while stretching and falls backward onto a bed; there is audible flatulence and it is suggested that he is drunk. A man asks a teenager about vomit that he found in a gymnasium (nothing is seen); the man gives the teen a mop and bucket to clean the mess. A teen boy returns from vacation with severe sunburn on his face (we see red and peeling skin).

The Holdovers LANGUAGE 8

 – At least 35 F-words, 1 obscene hand gesture, 1 sexual reference, 24 scatological terms, 25 anatomical terms, 13 mild obscenities, derogatory terms for Korean people, 40 name-calling (pain in the[anatomical term deleted], little [anatomical term deleted], lazy vulgar rancid little philistines, walleyed [mild obscenity deleted], reprobates, hidebound, Walleye, foul smelling freak, absurd, calling a teen’s mind a shallow cesspool, dumb, idiot, tool, [F-word deleted] insecure sociopath, entitled little degenerates, big softie, Nazi, crown prince of all the little [anatomical term deleted], fetid layabouts, twisted [F-word deleted], losers, pompous [anatomical term deleted] with a dictator complex, hormonal vulgarian, fancy little [anatomical term deleted], out of your [religious profanity deleted] mind/lost your mind, stupid, little monster, killer, washout, boar, cretin, young vandal, fascist hash factory, uptight, snarling Visigoths, orphan, troglodyte, [anatomical term deleted]cancer in human form), exclamations (jeez, shut-up, stifle it), 8 religious profanities (GD), 14 religious exclamations (e.g. Jesus Christ, God, Holy [scatological term deleted], Christ’s sake). | profanity glossary |


 – A teen boy gets a prescription for Percoden, a teen boy drops a vial of Librium that a man identifies as an antidepressant, a man swallows a Librium pill, we see a bag of marijuana, several instances of teenagers smoking marijuana cigarettes, there are discussions of marijuana, “pot” and “ditch weed,” and we see a tube of preparation H for hemorrhoids on a bathroom sink. Several scenes show adults and teenagers drinking and we see bottles of liquor in several scenes, a man falls onto a bed (he appears inebriated), a teen describes a man drinking and says, “It’s only 11 and he’s already lit” and “I can smell the whiskey on him,” and people drink communion wine to get inebriated. A man smokes a pipe in several scenes, and many scenes show adults and teenagers smoking cigarettes.


 – Grief, death of parents, death of children, abandonment, private schools, failing classes, college, found family, mental illness, Christmas and the holidays, loneliness, privilege, wealth and entitlement, ancient history, ethics, following dreams, religion, atheism.

The Holdovers MESSAGE

 – A person should always be with their people for the holidays.


Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.

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