Last night HE commenter “Regular Joe” said the following about Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers: “I liked it. I enjoyed it and might see it again on the big screen. That being said, I’m not sure how much it will resonate with the newer, younger Oscar voters who’ve been skewing the awards for a while now. Either way, entertaining flick.”

HE to Regular Joe: Saying you “liked” it enough to possibly see it again is both a serious compliment and an increasingly rare one these days. At the same time saying you found it “entertaining” almost qualifies as damnation with faint praise. Almost but not quite. I know you didn’t mean it this way but there’s a certain low-flame element in what you’re saying

In my book The Holdovers is a tartly finessed gift and something close to a well-varnished treasure — the kind of wisely seasoned, well-assembled, character-rich relationship dramedy that (here comes the crusty cliche that everyone has been repeating since Telluride) they just don’t make any more.

Mostly set in late December of ’70, The Holdovers delivers a sublime time-travel effect — a visit to a land of wonder and imagination…Jesus, I sound like Rod Serling here. It’s basically a visit to a land of real-people flavorings and shadings, of realistic complications and emotional detours and random speedbumps…the kind of food that was occasionally served on the menu back in the 20th Century…the kind of stuff that been-around-the-track types remember from films like The Last Detail, etc. Three characters with their particular, baked-in contours and attitudes on a journey of gradual self-discovery or resignation or whatever.

I know what you’re saying about the likely expectations or criteria that Millennials and Zoomers might have in their heads. Over the last 15 years these unfortunately bruised and coarsened souls have been conditioned to want more push or punch from films of this sort — payoff elements of a grosser or more pratfally nature (erections, farts, belchings, defecations, brown torpedoes, vomitings, ejaculations, handjobs, blowjobs, slaps and punches and ball-kickings, guys jumping out of second-story windows and suffering nary a bruise or scratch, fire alarms, cops being called, car thefts or crashings or breakdowns or speeding tickets, encounters with local yokel mechanics or grumpy old codgers or eccentric trans folk). I know what they want. They want “holy shit!” or “oooh-hah-hah-hah!!” or “gaaahhh!”

As Marcus Licinius Crassus once said, it’s all a matter of taste. And as Francois Truffaut once explained, taste is a result of a thousand distastes, I’m not saying that the cinematic appetites of Millennials and Zoomers are tragic, but in a sense a fair-sized percentage of them don’t seem to know (or don’t care to know) what distastes are, or have rejected the idea of distastes or something along these lines. Over the last 15 or 20 years their standards have been systematically lowered and ground into mush, and so they want relationship dramedies in a Seth Rogen-y vein.

You know that feeling of shuddering disgust that many critics expressed in their reviews of Rogen’s Long Shot? The Holdovers has none of that shit in its veins. It’s a fine wine by comparison.