This evening’s review is our second Christmas film review in as many weeks. This is a slightly different festive movie compared to The Night Before – mainly because there are fewer drugs.
Christmas With The Coopers (or Love The Coopers if you’re reading from America) is an all-star Christmas film ready to prepare a real-life extended family for the trials and tribulations of the festive period.
Christmas With The Coopers is one of a few seasonal films in the cinema currently and it isn’t a woeful addition to the Christmas catalogue of movies – but not necessarily as classic either…
When four generations of the Cooper clan come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday.
The Cooper family is made up of some of Hollywood’s most famous faces including the unhappy couple of 40 years John Goodman and Diane Keaton, eldest son and jobless Hank (Ed Helms) who is lying to his ex-wife (Alex Borstein) about retaining his job at a supermarket. Daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) and soldier Joe (Jake Lacy) discuss their different lives in an airport lounge. Keaton’s sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) spends the day in Officer Williams' (Anthony Mackie) police car after being arrested for shoplifting while their father Bucky (Alan Arkin) makes the most of his last day with his friend and waitress Ruby (Amanda Seyfried). In addition to the pack is of course the narrator of the film, Steve Martin, who is the canine pet of the family.
Films like Christmas With The Coopers isn’t the first movie with an ensemble cast. We have had previous seasonal offerings shoved in our faces including New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s day – but none of them have ever added up to the British classic Love Actually. Clearly, people aren’t tired of these films but is Christmas with the Coopers the one that has nailed the genre rather than just a way to make a bit of cash? Sadly the latter.
Don’t get me wrong, the film has its good bits and the occasional smushy Christmas cheer but on the whole it is a bit limp and unoriginal. The best two sub-plots for me are Goodman and Keaton’s fading marriage and the relationship between Alan Arkin and Amanda Seyfried. The marriage narrative is very relatable to a lot of couples, and as statistics show, many relationships end around Christmas time. Goodman is warm and Keaton’s character is loveable and caring – they just can’t be like that to each other. Arkin and Seyfried have two great scenes together – their relationship feels very real. Arkin is a gem in any film he does and he doesn’t disappoint here too.
My main gripe is the sub-plot between Olivia Wilde and Jake Lacy. Their story could be so much better. It starts really well and makes the audience intrigued, but as it develops it falls into the static and predictable realms of previous Christmas movie mediocrity.
The film in its entirety is inevitably a little repetitive too - with so many different groups of characters, there isn’t a lot of time to understand all the different situations as it has to be squeezed into 107 minutes. Thanks to particularly good shifts by Goodman, Keaton and Arkin, Christmas With The Coopers is watchable but won’t be revisited every Christmas by the masses. It does have an emotional punch every now and then but it all concludes with the obvious happy ending – it’s just a little disappointing after a bright start.
Cineroom’s Rating: 2 Stars
Christmas With The Coopers (Love The Coopers) is now in selected cinemas worldwide – certificate 12A