It’s only the second week of November and we have our first Christmas film of the season and they’re really stretching on this one to warm your hearts with a title like Love The Coopers. Well, let me tell you, I personally don’t love the Coopers at all. I don’t like them and I don’t accept them. I downright detest the Coopers. I don’t like anything about them. You could actually say that I HATE the Coopers. Why? Because this is a Christmas film actually bad enough to make you want to cancel Christmas entirely. When the credits rolled I wasn’t filled with Christmas cheer, I was filled with the bile of BAH HUMBUG!
Moments before the movie began and I got all “Grinchy” on this film, I was actually trying to look for some bright points. The film boasts a pretty great cast. John Goodman plays the patriarch of the family, which I hoped would detract from the mediocrity Diane Keaton has brought to all of her roles since Marvin’s Room in 1996. There’s also Alan Arkin as Keaton’s father, Marisa Tomei as her sister and Ed Helms and Olivia Wilde playing her two kids. Throw in Helms’s character’s three kids and Academy Award nominated June Squibb as a senile great aunt and you have met the Coopers. It’s not a bad bunch of actors but this film sure makes them look like it.
The film is split up into a few separate storylines that are all leading to Sam (Goodman) and Charlotte’s (Keaton) house for Christmas Eve dinner, who are on the verge of splitting up. Hank (Helms) is in the midst of a divorce, unemployed and unable to buy his kids what they want for Christmas, while his sister Eleanor (Wilde) convinces a stranger she meets while killing time at the airport to pose as her boyfriend. Charlotte’s sister (Tomei) gets arrested at the mall for shoplifting a brooch and Bucky (Arkin) is dealing with a crush he has on a local waitress (Amanda Seyfried) at the diner he frequents. It’s all set up in the cheesy narration from Steve Martin.
From just these introductions, the film slowly dawns on you as the unoriginal and joyless film it is. It’s the equivalent of going to a work place Christmas party where a co-worker you don’t like corners you and tells you bad jokes all night. Everything proceeds exactly how you think it will, all through badly written and serendipitous reasons, and you hate it more and more throughout the 106 minute runtime. I will spare you the details on how things actually develop but I think you could predict everything exactly through a short plot outline and a look at the trailer. I’ll try to save you the “magic”.
As I was trying to shut this movie out of my head afterwards, I was marvelling at how hollow it was despite all of its attempts to seem sweetly nostalgic and play on the cliched emotional themes of the holiday season. It made the film seem mildly annoying and excruciating by the end, I assume much like being beaten repeatedly with a wiffle ball bat. By the end I wanted the Christmas Angel of Death to come take me away.
As the first Christmas time release, sadly, if these type of family movies are your bag to get in the yuletide spirit, this one is not going to do the trick anymore than a Hallmark card from your dentist would. In fact, I think the best advice should be just to leave the Coopers alone this Christmas, they can join the other unwanted family, the Cranks (Remember that one? Of course you don’t!). I give this spray snow covered turd a one out of five.