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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: Not much to love about "Love The Coopers"

Nov 18, 2015 10:31AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Love the Coopers - © CBS Films

Love The Coopers (Lionsgate/CBS Films)

Rated PG - 13 for thematic elements, language and some sexuality.

Starring Steve Martin (voice), Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Diane Keaton, Jake Lacy, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, Alex Borstein, Blake Baumgartner, Timothée Chalamet, Maxwell Simkins, Dan Amboyer, Molly Gordon.

Written by Steven Rogers.

Directed by Jessie Nelson.



If we are to believe the film industry, Christmas is the worst and best thing in the world. On the one hand, we see lots of movies about the “miracles” of the holidays (usually having to do with Santa). On the other, we get a “dysfunctional family” drama almost annually. This year’s “dysfunctional” installment is Love The Coopers.

A narrator (Steve Martin, whose voice is unrecognizable until the end credits) tells the story of the Cooper family as they assemble for their annual Christmas Eve dinner. Diane Keaton and John Goodman play Charlotte and Sam Cooper, the parents of Hank (Ed Helms) and Eleanor (Olivia Wilde).  Sam’s dad Bucky (Alan Arkin) frequents a diner where his young friend Ruby (Amanda Seyfried), a troubled waitress works. Charlotte’s jealous sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) spends Christmas Eve day in the back of a patrol car having a meaningful, life examining conversation with Officer Percy (Anthony Mackie). Meanwhile, Hank is dealing with the reality of unemployment and divorce, as Eleanor avoids her family at the airport, where she meets the affable army soldier Joe (Jake Lacy), who can’t get home due to weather. The pair hits it off, despite their opposite values and the fact that she’s a mistress to a local doctor. Incidentally, Sam and Charlotte are on the verge of divorce and fight about whether they should share the news of their separation during the holiday.

As Christmas Eve arrives, so do all the family members, along with all their emotional baggage. Eleanor also drags Joe along in a charade as her fake boyfriend, in an attempt to fool her disapproving mother. Emotions flare until a medical emergency moves the party to a hospital waiting room, where all family differences are magically resolved.

Love The Coopers is hard to watch, mostly because it’s another feeble attempt to highlight one privileged family’s First World “problems” set against a background of “goodwill to all.” It’s difficult to sympathize with people whose main issues include “you didn’t go to Africa with me,” “You’re giving me that look,” and “You started dinner without me.” It’s also difficult to identify or connect with any of the characters, who prattle on about how good their lives used to be, while constantly lamenting the present.

Olivia Wilde’s Eleanor is the most unlikeable of the Coopers, allowed to demonize Joe’s conservative political and religious values while falling in love with him. Most fellas like Joe would have wished her well and hooked up with any other malcontent home wrecker avoiding family at the airport.

There are a few laughs and even a few tender moments in Love The Coopers, but not enough to make anyone feel better about family or the holidays.

Love The Coopers trailer