Love the Coopers (aka Christmas With the Coopers)

"Very Good"

Love the Coopers (aka Christmas With the Coopers) Review


This may look like it's going to be a zany Christmas romp, but it's really a warm exploration of family connections, essentially an American take on Love Actually's multi-strand comedy-drama. At least it has an unusually strong cast and moments of hilarity scattered throughout the story. And while it's never very deep, the themes are strongly resonant.

The Cooper family is gathering for what Charlotte (Diane Keaton) hopes will be one last perfect Christmas together. She knows that her 40-year marriage to Sam (John Goodman) is on the brink, but is ignoring that to plan a massive dinner. Their son Hank (Ed Helms) is stinging from divorce and unemployment, while daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) has picked up a hunky soldier (Jake Lacy) in the airport and asks him to pose as her boyfriend so her family will stop asking about her love life. Meanwhile, Charlotte's father Bucky (Alan Arkin) is trying to cheer up his favourite waitress (Amanda Seyfried), and Charlotte's sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) is delayed when a cop (Anthony Mackie) arrests her for shoplifting.

Narrated with wry joviality by Steve Martin, the interwoven stories are fairly simplistic, but each touches a raw nerve. And the above-average cast brings out the underlying themes without overplaying their scenes. Keaton and Goodman add subtle shades to the slightly undemanding central roles, while Arkin finds a couple of new textures to his usual twinkly grandad persona. Helms and Wilde strike the right balance in their intriguingly unlikeable roles, while Tomei gets the most complex character as a woman who feels like she's merely watched her life drift along. By contrast, the outsiders played by Seyfried, Lacy and Mackie are much less defined, but each actor brings just enough magnetic energy. The most wasted performer is June Squibb, as a ditzy old aunt who's little more than the requisite gross-out relative.

Director Jessie Nelson and writer Steven Rogers aren't interested in challenging any of these characters too severely. The various strands remain warm with dark edges, but never tip over into properly serious drama. This can make the movie feel a bit nostalgic and trite, but it also catches the audience's attention, because it's very easy to see ourselves in each of these people. Especially as they struggle to maintain their individuality while being pushed back into their old family roles. And by undermining the comedy with bittersweet realism, the film manages to capture that quiet sense of desperation most of us feel as the holidays arrive.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Christmas With The Coopers here:



Love the Coopers (aka Christmas With the Coopers)

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Janice Williams

Contactmusic


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