Love the Coopers
Director: Jessie Nelson
Writer: Steven Rogers
Cast: Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Alex Borstein, Timothée Chalamet, Maxwell Simkins, Blake Baumgartner, Amanda Seyfried, Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, Jake Lacy, June Squibb, Anthony Mackie, Steve Martin
Seen on: 9.12.2015
Christmas is just around the corner and Charlotte Cooper (Diane Keaton) is preparing for Christmas dinner with her family – her father Bucky (Alan Arkin), her sister Emma (Marisa Tomei), her husband Sam (John Goodman) and their children Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) and Hank (Ed Helms) including his currently-divorcing wife Angie (Alex Borstein) and their children Charlie (Timothée Chalamet), Bo (Maxwell Simkins) and Madison (Blake Baumgartner). But not all is well with the Coopers: Sam wants to separate from Charlotte but has promised one last Christmas without the family knowing. Emma gets caught shoplifting. Bucky’s closest relationship – with waitress Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) – is threatened when Ruby tells him she will leave town. Hank has lost his job in addition to the divorce and doesn’t want to let his family know. And Eleanor would rather spend the day at the airport than one minute longer than necessary with her family. There she meets soldier Joe (Jake Lacy) and hits it off with him.
Love the Coopers is exactly what you’d expect from an USAmerican Christmas family movie. It’s basically trivial, but rather nice to watch.
Love the Coopers has funny bits and it has bits where it just tries way too hard (unfortunately it has more of the latter than the former). Especially the narration became tiring quickly (particularly since I’m not a fan of voice-over narration in general), although there, too, where nice moments.
It wouldn’t have hurt the film one bit if there had been a little more diversity – instead of an all-white cast that sits around the family tree and sings with the only major character who isn’t included in that Christmas party the only black guy [SPOILERS] who also happens to be the only queer character, although very uneasy with his homosexuality. It is particularly unfortunate because in a better world, instead of a weird love triangle between Bucky, Ruby and Hank, Anthony Mackie’s Officer Williams would have been invited to the Christmas party and would have ridden into the sunset with Hank [/SPOILERS]. But for that the film was way too conservative and white-middle-class-USAmerican.
Every once in a while, the film would touch on something real, would actually manage to transcend the Christmas kitsch to get somewhere actually emotional. Most of these moments are between Eleanor and Joe – there the movie comes actually alive. But there were also some moments inbetween: when Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie) roleplays his relationship with his mother. When Bo tries to win his brother back. When Charlie dances.
But mostly the film drowns in cheesily shallow Christmas spirit. It is not entirely sickly sweet but it does come close. And in the end everything is well and all the problems are gone and solved through the power of love. How could it be any different.