Know that I am a sucker for holiday movies, good or bad. But calling Nancy Meyers’ Love the Coopers a holidramedy is being nice. It is not very funny… ever. If you saw The Family Stone and thought it was too nice, Love the Coopers might be the holiday movie for you. But what opens with an extended air of an American Love Actually revels way too much in the nastiness of the holidays.
Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam (John Goodman) have been married for decades, but they are considering some life-changing decisions, and Charlotte wants one last Christmas as a united family. Here is where the movie starts tossing out curveballs, but do director Jessie Nelson (Corrina, Corrina and I Am Sam) and writer Steven Rogers (P.S. I Love You, which is one of the top 10 worst movies I have reviewed during my decade-plus in this position) really intend to trick us with the branches of the Cooper family tree? Oldest son Hank (Ed Helms) is struggling to deliver a proper Christmas to his three children despite a divorce and unemployment. Cooper daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) has the most entertaining subplot, as she and a young soldier named Joe (Jake Lacy, “The Office”) meet cute in an airport. Eventually, she convinces him to play the role of her boyfriend to appease her parents. An entire romantic comedy about this couple might have proven a better watch than this more extended family flick.
The confusing plots center on Marisa Tomei’s petty thief, Emma, Alan Arkin’s aged former teacher, Bucky, and Amanda Seyfried’s waitress, Ruby. If the filmmakers mean to obscure Emma’s relationship to the Coopers (is she a sister or a daughter?), it is an unnecessary and meaningless mystery. Bucky and Ruby’s relationship begs several questions, one of which is are they romantically inclined? The movie spends too much time establishing these relationships that merely obfuscate the film’s few strengths.
By the climactic act, Love the Coopers has dropped its Scrooge routine and embraced its inner Tiny Tim. Unfortunately, the first two acts could be titled “Bah” and “Humbug.” The movie is so determined to convince us how awful the holidays and families are it becomes hard to buy the saccharine ending. And do not get me started on Steve Martin’s narration; it never allows a moment to breathe. Worse holiday movies are available, but stick with the classics. Heck, I might even prefer to spend Christmas with the Kranks.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.