Who are the eponymous Holland Avenue Boys of Howard Fischer’s documentary? Well, back in the Bronx in the 1940s and 1950s, they were a group of nice Jewish kids (including the filmmaker) from nice families who used to hang out together, go to school, work benign afterschool jobs, and not create any trouble. They all grew up to be successful men, with career paths stretching from physics to publishing to setting up White House travel schedules. And they all married nice women and everyone stayed in touch and remained the best of friends as time wobbled by and old age set in.
So what makes this gang deserving of being the subject of a feature film? Who the hell knows? Most documentaries focus on ordinary people involved in extraordinary events or circumstances. “The Holland Avenue Boys” focuses on ordinary people involved in less-than-interesting happenings, and the result
is one of the most tedious home movies ever to pass itself off as a real feature film. While it is mildly pleasant to know that Fischer and his childhood pals all grew up to achieve professional and personal satisfaction and were able to stay in touch over the walk of years, it is a total bore for the viewer to watch a film where there is absolutely no drama, passion, purpose or even pulse. Compared to this flick, there is more drama in watching the wind blow dead leaves off an autumn tree.
In the course of the film, one of the wives of Fischer’s friends facetiously laments she has but one regret in life: “That I was not one of the Holland Avenue Boys.” After viewing this numbing little film, she might add a second regret: that she appeared in “The Holland Avenue Boys.”