As studios amp up to release their big holiday products, like sequels to The Hunger Games and Star Wars, along with surefire Oscar contenders like Spotlight and The Revenant, there will be a week or two when cinemas try to squeak by with meager offerings.
Love the Coopers is one of those meager offerings.
I’ll say this for the movie: Its cast is jam-packed with talent. Diane Keaton, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Anthony Mackie, Alan Arkin, Amanda Seyfried, Ed Helms and even the voice of Steve Martin all show up in this supposed holiday film.
If you are looking for a Christmas movie to add a little joy to your holiday season, this movie will not do the trick. If you are looking for something totally weird, dark and unfunny while being sort of stupid and wasteful overall, this one might please you.
Love the Coopers obviously has a lot of characters played by those performers I listed above, and a lot of plot lines to go with them. It gets a bit tiresome trying to follow all that’s going on, and I’m not going to recount everything for you. I would need this entire publication’s space to do that effectively. Well, I say effectively, but it would probably be a horribly boring description so saying I would do the whole description thing effectively is actually total bullshit.
Charlotte (Keaton) and Sam (Goodman) have been married for over 40 years. Their marriage has hit the skids and Christmas looks like it could totally suck, not a good thing for a Christmas movie. Charlotte has been refusing to travel to Africa with Sam for many years, and that’s the final straw. As the family gathers for Christmas Eve, Sam is planning to leave his wife shortly thereafter, and all cups of eggnog will be tainted with that sour taste of despair.
One of the more prominent of the many, many subplots involves Charlotte’s sister Emma (Tomei) being arrested for shoplifting and getting a stoic police officer (Mackie) for an escort to the police station. Of course, Emily manages to successfully decipher all of the officer’s life issues from the back seat of the car and, you know, maybe she just learns a little about herself, too.
Another storyline has Charlotte’s wayward daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) meeting some Army dude (Jake Lacy) at an airport on her way home and inviting him to be her boyfriend for the weekend to trick Mom, even thought they can’t stand each other. It’s the sort of thing that only happens in stupid movies like this. Wilde and Lacy are cute enough to make their screen time almost tolerable even if it’s mostly banal. Will they eventually make out? I think so!
Dumbest of the subplots is Charlotte’s dad, Bucky (Alan Arkin), having an odd relationship with a diner waitress (Seyfried). They aren’t screwing or anything like that, but he does lend her movies, and she serves him coffee with sad, forlorn eyes. Developments later in the film suggest Seyfried’s character could wind up with Bucky’s son (Helms). It’s all just a little creepy and uncomfortable.
Throw in a crazy aunt who doesn’t remember anything (June Squibb) and farts a lot, and a gangly teenaged boy learning to kiss his girlfriend under the mistletoe, and you have just the right ingredients to make you throw up profusely.
Director Jessie Nelson, whose last directorial effort was the assault on humanity that was I Am Sam, sabotages her own movie with crazy left turns and wild moments. It’s actually a shock that Seyfried and Arkin don’t make out, because that sort of weirdness would be right at home in this flick. Nelson determines to make this an anti-holiday holiday movie. I can respect the effort to be different, but she messes it up in a big way.
The final twist involving the origin of Martin’s narrator voice is probably the best thing in Love the Coopers. Since the final twist is also sort of lame, that’s not saying much for the movie.