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Love the Coopers: movie review
Because heaven knows what we need right now is another Christmas movie about a dysfunctional family that, just because it’s Christmas, puts all its issues aside and comes together in the end.
I know… cynical, right? Grinchy? Sure. But, heck, if Love the Coopers was anywhere near decent, recycling the holiday’s most tired storyline could probably be forgivable.
Yet another feeble attempt at an homage to Love Actually, it barrels into theaters with all the nuance of an M1 Abrams tank and all the originality of a Christmas movie that starts with the sound of jingling bells, followed by the voice of a kindly old narrator. Oh, wait.
The ensemble-and-a-half cast spans four generations, and every single stereotype gets its time in the snowflake-filled air along the way. Bucky (Alan Arkin) is the wise old fella who spends his days in the local diner, serving as sage to troubled waitress Ruby (Amanda Seyfried). Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam (John Goodman) are the seasoned couple struggling to keep their love alive after 40 years. Emma (Marisa Tomei) is a petty loner, Hank (Ed Helms) is a loveable divorcee and father of three-- including a cute (though predictably profane) daughter and an emo teenager, and Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) is the put-upon disappointment of the family. Needless to say, they’re all related, but it takes the better part of a week for their stories (and baggage-laden backstories) to be revealed. And then there’s the narrator; the fact that Steve Martin agreed to it shows that he had clearly lost a really bad bet.
Screenwriter Steven Rogers (Kate and Leopold) must have kept a checklist of all the tropes of storytelling as wrote this garbage. And darned if he didn’t somehow manage to include every single one along the way. First love, soul-searching, poignant flashbacks, re-connecting, jealousy, rage, declining mental health, meet-cutes, and even the old reliable one of the dog eating the holiday dinner. Rogers didn’t miss a single one.
But wait, there’s more. If you can somehow sit through the almost-two-hours of treacle and smarm, the filmmakers save the best for last. It would be particularly Scrooge-y to spoil it, but suffice to say the sound of facepalms echoed through the theater as the final nail was pounded into this movie’s coffin.
Love the Coopers is as ridiculous as they come-- though, to be fair, the scenes with Wilde and Jake Lacy as a soldier she recruits as a pretend-boyfriend are often charming and occasionally smile-inducing. Everything else is a wholly unoriginal mess that tries too hard to be something-- but fails at everything. 'Tis the season, though, apparently. Bah. Humbug.