Love the Coopers
by George Wolf
Home for the holidays.
Not exactly a novel concept, but one you can expect to find at the multiplex this time of year, so if nothing else, Love the Coopers is punctual.
As Christmas approaches, longtime married couple Charlotte and Sam Cooper (Diane Keaton and John Goodman) have decided to split, but Sam has promised to keep quiet about it until the family has enjoyed one last “perfect” Holiday together.
But as they ready their Pittsburgh home for guests, things are far from perfect.
Their son Hank (Ed Helms) is divorced and now, suddenly jobless. Resentful daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) is bringing home a fake boyfriend (Jake Lacey) just to shut her parents up. Grandpa (Alan Arkin) is upset because his favorite waitress at the diner (Amanda Seyfreid) is moving away. Aunt Fishy (June Squibb) is having memory lapses, while Charlotte’s sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) just got arrested and is trying to psycho-analyze Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie) from the back of a police car.
The big disadvantage with this formula is that as the cast of characters grows, so does the necessity of quality writing to make any of them impactful. Steven Rogers provides a script that’s pleasant enough, but it can’t resonate any more than a random sampling of Hallmark cards.
Love the Coopers wants us to slow down, live each moment, and take the time to appreciate life.
It is a sweet sentiment, truly, but told in an obvious and often contrived manner, right down to the obligatory foul-mouthed little kid (Blake Baumgartner) and reaction-shot dog. Well worn themes can still be vital, but that usually results from less telling and more showing, an approach which doesn’t seem to interest director Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam).
Instead, she invites you over for a likable cast serving up harmlessly disposable Holiday fare.
Love the Coopers? Not really, but The Coopers Are Okay I Guess didn’t seem quite wonderful enough for this time of year.