film reel image

film reel image

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Love the Coopers 2015 * * 1/2 Stars

Love the CoopersDirector: Jessie Nelson
Year: 2015
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde

Love the Coopers (my latest review) might be the strangest, most offbeat holiday film I've seen in many a moon. Its director Jessie Nelson, shoots 107 minutes that include innumerable close-ups (of her actors), split screens, jittery camerawork, and clips of high schoolers french kissing (badly I might add). There's Bob Dylan tunes in the background, a wealth of fake snow, Steve Martin narration lifted straight from the vehicle Little Children (don't ask), and even the sound of June Squibb farting (ugh). So is this thing a comedy as exhibited by its cliched-minded trailer? Not entirely. A sad drama that might deceive you is more like it. Is this a panoramic, sort of blackballed, ensemble piece that the late Robert Altman would have rejected? Oh you know it. 2003 had Love Actually, "Coopers" has "actual" begrudging.

Produced by the same guy responsible for 2005's The Family Stone (Michael London) and taking place near Pittsburgh, PA, Love the Coopers chronicles the dysfunctional descendants of the same name. You have Charlotte Cooper (played by Diane Keaton), a mother of two and a grandmother of three. Her wish is to have all of her kin together for one Christmas Eve. She invites everyone over by sending them snow globes as gifts. This includes her daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), her son Hank (Ed Helms), her father Bucky (Alan Arkin), and her sister Emma (Marisa Tomei). Charlotte is married to Sam Cooper (John Goodman) but they are on the verge of a separation. Hank, well he's already divorced with some kids. Eleanor isn't in a relationship yet chooses to mess around with a married doctor (she also brings home a stranger from the armed forces to pose as her boyfriend). Finally, Emma is completely alone while having a knack for stealing expensive jewelry.

Now each persona just mentioned, has a plot point. The film shifts back and forth with their vignettes until everyone meets (in the same location) for dinner, gifts, and acoustic, Xmas singalongs. At the Cooper family feast, you have the obligatory bickering and the obligatory shouting. Someone falls into the jello with a mild stroke, the dog of the household eats off many a plate, and every immediate family member (plus any anonymous invitee) dances together in relegated jubilee. In bits and pieces, Love the Coopers reminded me of Nothing Like the Holidays circa 2008. The only difference being that "Coopers" is more Americanized and there's no petrified tree waiting to be chopped down in the front yard.

In retrospect, I went into Love the Coopers thinking it was gonna be another Family Stone. I'm glad I was wrong. I'm in the minority when I say that I really loathed that flick. It had pretentious characters in manipulatively forced situations. With "Coopers", there's less of that stuff. You have a deeper tonality taking place. Sure Jessie Nelson doesn't always know where to put the camera and sure, she presents every cast member's conflict (and overlapping story) only to abruptly bring happiness to fruition. Alas, her film still has a certain amount of appeal. With beautiful images of Christmas nosh, sparkly lacerations of decorations/lights, and a whole lot of cheery, caroling going on, this is a walking Hallmark card of a movie. I can see hardcore, holiday aficionados watching it for its gaze, a Christmassy look that would give anyone their fuzzy-wuzzy, yuletide fix. Rating: A strong two and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

1 comment:

  1. everything you said is true about Love the Coopers, yet I liked it because of all of the bickering and deeply flawed central characters who openly able to admit their both their major flaws and shortcomings. i liked how openly the characters spoke about changing their perceptions of one another. great review Jesse. I found "love the Coopers" to be more lf a catharsis in a sense that their internal pain, as well as vulnerabilities helped to open up the human condition. the characters were dynamic and ever-changing. to me,like the movie The Holiday,I found this film to be both entertaining and thought provoking because I am single and want to have a significant other to celebrate the holidays with. ----Michael ONeill
    I give it 3 solid stars..