Love The Coopers

by Dale Reynolds

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday March 4, 2016

Love The Coopers

Whatever fun you might have with this charming, if slightly less-thoughtful-than-we-might-like, family Christmas film, it won't last in your memory-banks for very long.

The big problem with films that put a major claim onto the Christian Christmas season is that they are mostly all-too-willing to hoke it up for sentimentality and a wet-eye at the end. This, frankly, can be a legitimate reaction to its belabored charms, but you have to wish it were better written.

A retired couple, married forty years, Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam Cooper (John Goodman), always have the entire family over for Christmas dinner and presents. Snowing that day and night, the eldest, Hank (Ed Helms) and his Jewish wife, Angie (Alex Bornstein) and their sometimes-adorable children, Madison (Blake Baumgartner), the youngest at five or so, Bo (Maxwell Simpkins), 8, and 15-year-old Charlie (Timothy Chalamet) arrive first. But, interchanged for us, are Emma (Marisa Tomai), a "life-coach" and unhappily single, younger sister to Charlotte, and Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), Charlotte and Sam's daughter. A mess of a soul, who manages to latch onto a young man, off to the army, Joe (Jake Lacy), and brings him home to pretend he's her boyfriend.

And the complications ensue. The parents have fallen out of love and are on the verge of a divorce. Eleanor might find some happiness with this simple, religious soldier, Emma manages to get herself arrested in a shopping mall, only to help the arresting police officer come out as a gay man. Charlie gets his first (erotic) kiss with a pretty girl, and the dog, Rags (Bolt, don't ask), steals our hearts along with much of the Christmas dinner.

Its charms fade by the end, but it has professionalism written all over it, so you won't gag at some of the obvious holiday memes.

So, this dysfunctional family have their individual charms, and writer Steven Rogers has given director Jessie Nelson a strong-enough plot, with realistic-enough characters (well-acted by them all), to overcome most of the objectionable clichés. Especially that of grandpa Bucky (Alan Arkin), whose infatuation for a local waitress (Amanda Seyfried) is well-handled, but slightly creepy. And batty Aunt Fishy (June Squibb) is kept from being totally offensive by Ms. Squibb's acting chops.

Its charms fade by the end, but it has professionalism written all over it, so you won't gag at some of the obvious holiday memes. Well-shot by Elliot Davis and well-edited by Nancy Richardson, it is a nice picture, not for the ages, but soundly produced, with excellent acting, costumes, set-design, etc.

Buy it and wait until next Christmas to see it.

"Love The Coopers"
Blue-ray
$22.99
www. Lionsgate.com