The warm tones of narrator Steven Martin (who doesn’t appear onscreen throughout the film) are certainly inviting. But trouble starts once we meet the Coopers themselves, an unusually un-lovable bunch led by Sam (John Goodman) and Charlotte (Diane Keaton). Their marriage hit the skids over a vacation one of them bailed on years ago, with the other never being able to forgive the abrupt change in the plans. Daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) is a free spirit who can’t find Mr. Right, so she enlists the help of military man Joe (Jake Lacy) to pose as her fiancé for Christmas dinner.
Emma (Marisa Tomei; struggling to seem “old” enough to be Keaton’s sister, when she’s in fact young enough to be her daughter) is a kleptomaniac who gets busted trying to boost a pendant. The arresting officer is Percy (Anthony Mackie), whom Emma correctly identifies as a closeted gay man. They have a preposterously personal and lengthy conversation as Percy is driving her to the police station. Will he let her go in time for her to meet up with the family? Meanwhile Grandpa Bucky (Alan Arkin) is sprung on a cute young waitress (Amanda Seyfried), who also caught the eye of Bucky’s grandson Hank (Ed Helms). Hank lost his job as a department store family portrait photographer, but is too chicken to tell his wife.
If all that weren’t enough soapy comedy/drama, there’s Aunt Fishy (June Squibb). What would one of these “heartwarming” Christmas movies be without the alleged “fun” of an elderly relative in the throes of dementia? The 86-year-old Squibb is saddled with the most indignant role of the film. So I’ve outlined the principle players and their basic situations. If you’re hooked, by all means see Love the Coopers. But be forewarned: almost no emotion expressed throughout the 107-minute duration feels genuine. No conflict is resolved in a satisfying way. There’s plenty of pontificating and pseudo-philosophizing spewed by all, but it’s neither funny nor thought-provoking. Simply put, Love the Coopers is among the worst holiday-themed films out there.
Lionsgate’s nicely presented Blu-ray (crisp 1080p transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio) is supplemented by only the most superficial of special features. “Making the Coopers” is a 12-minute EPK piece. “Rags the Dog” is a one-minute clip focusing on the film’s only truly adorable character. “Fun on the Set” offers some brief interview snippets (this “featurette” doesn’t even run one full minute!). And there’s a music video for a soundtrack song by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
For some reason, Amanda Seyfried was singled out by the Golden Raspberry Awards for a Worst Supporting Actress nomination. I have no idea why she was blasted like that. The cast itself is to be commended for doing their damnedest to make this DOA film endearing. In fact, the only reason to see Love the Coopers is if you happen to be a big fan of one or more of the talented cast members.