Love the Coopers isn’t a great film but it has its moments. An ensemble tale revolving around Christmas and the breaking down of the parental relationship within the Cooper family, the film puts the pieces together in a way that provides a few laughs and some serious soul searching. The audience’s appreciation will be directly related to how much they value the various actors – and the morals they represent.
Central to the story are Sam and Charlotte (John Goodman and Diane Keaton) who have grown apart over time, and lack the responsibilities to their children that once held them together. Intent to stay together one last Christmas, they bicker and spar as their children work their way home for Christmas dinner.
Hank (Ed Helms) is going through a divorce of his own, watching his children try to negotiate their various issues in the midst of the divorce; Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) picks up a recent military recruit, Joe (Jake Lacy), and tries to pass him off as her boyfriend (while she’s secretly dating a married man). Charlotte’s sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei), doesn’t think she was ever loved and ends up in the back of a cop car with the closeted Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie); Aunt Fishy (Juliet Squibb) is mourning what she’s lost and trying to enjoy Christmas as best she can; Grandpa Bucky (Alan Arkin) still has love and wisdom to share.
None of this is groundbreaking, but I enjoyed it more than I expected. Sure, I’m a sucker for Christmas movies, and the closing twist was enough to bring it all together for me. Helms is engaging as the lovable loser; Wilde and Lacy had a chemistry I wouldn’t have expected. In the end, the reminder about family, hope, and not giving up was one I appreciated.
If you do enjoy it, you’ll appreciate the featurette about Rags the Dog, and the way the cast had “Fun on Set.” Whatever you decide, you’ll either Love (or hate) the Coopers. I’m not sure there’s any in between.