RELEASE DATE: 26/11/2015
RUN TIME: 1HR 46MIN
Christmas is big business in America. They go nuts over there during “the holidays”. It actually looks like a lot of fun, all the White Christmas stuff, but unfortunately the director of ‘Love the Coopers’ didn’t seem to be going for fun. Really, I have no idea what Jessie Nelson was going for. There’s a story in there, somewhere, centring around Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam (John Goodman), a couple married for 40 years who are hoping for one last superficially happy family Christmas before they break the news of their separation. Surrounding this flimsy premise are a myriad of family members with their own plethora of problems. There are so many insignificant characters that none of them really hold any interest for the audience, nor do they inspire us to become at all invested in their fate. It’s a shame, because despite being flimsy, the idea behind this film has potential.
Poor Diane Keaton. She’s not my favourite actress by a long shot, as I find her rather annoying, but here I just felt sorry for her, because she was so miscast. She’s a grandmother of a teenager, daughter of Alan Arkin’s Bucky, sister to Marisa Tomei as Emma, and wife to John Goodman. She would have been better suited as Arkin’s wife and Tomei’s mother, and as a result, her face is CGI-de-aged during the entire film. While not only an expensive move, this was downright distracting. She looked like she’d been constantly filtered with those apps some girls use to airbrush their faces before going on Instagram. With so many talented actresses out there, why (a) use Diane Keaton here, and (b) bother with the airbrushing? Just either use her and embrace her, or get someone else! The film tries at one point to explain all the strange ages of the various generations, which feels a lot like hanging a lantern on it and an acknowledgement they’d made a mistake.
Also distracting are all the unnecessary little extras, like using split screen, montages, and fantasy sequences, not to mention Steve Martin’s god-awful narration. What the hell was going on? The film jumps from sub-plot to sub-plot, never sinking its teeth into any of them, and taking far too long to get going. It doesn’t give us a chance to get to know any of the players besides how they fit in overall, and even the interesting points get glossed over. There are a few glimmers; for example, the discussions between Olivia Wilde’s Eleanor and Jake Lacy’s Joe could have been very interesting, as are Emma’s discussions with the policeman. But it's all wasted - badly! It makes me sad how much wastage was in this film.
What was it trying to be? Was there a message in there somewhere - and if there was, what was it?
This film is confused. What was it trying to be? Was there a message in there somewhere - and if there was, what was it? ‘Love The Coopers’ has a great (mostly appropriate) cast, but suffers from such vague direction that it falls into the pile of movies labelled "Not ‘Love Actually’". It’s just another American wannabe of a fantastic British classic Christmas movie.
It has a couple redeeming features – there are some lines that resonate, and while forgettable, the characters are relatable. Maybe it’s because none have any particularly distinguishing features, so they’re a bit like horoscopes in that you can relate them to your own experiences quite easily. Perhaps that’s what they were actually aiming for. Who knows? The end result is a weak, predictable story that may only be suitable for background noise during the post-Christmas lunch food coma.