“Love the Coopers” is a new Christmas comedy, and this film is a landmark for me.
I have a confession to make. I have been a film critic for nine years on and off again, and during that time, this has been the closest I have come to walking out of a theater. Now, looking back on it as I’m writing this review, I wish I had done just that.
I don’t know where to begin, but let’s try with the plot. The movie features an ensemble cast including Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Ed Helms, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde and Amanda Seyfried as a dysfunctional family attempting to get together during the Christmas season.
Each member of the family has their own story here. Goodman and Keaton are a married couple who are about to call it quits, but decide to leave it up to their time during the holidays to see if their marriage can be saved. All the while, they’re taking care of their granddaughter, who provides perhaps the only real laughs in the movie.
Tomei plays Keaton’s sister, who gets arrested on Christmas Eve after stealing some jewelry by trying to place it in her mouth. Anthony Mackie from the second “Captain America” movie plays the arresting officer. Tomei is a therapist of sorts, and she tries to psychoanalyze Mackie’s problems in hopes of getting out of jail.
Wilde plays Goodman and Keaton’s daughter who comes home for the holidays, and she meets a soldier at the airport and she convinces him to be her boyfriend, as she’s always single. As for Arkin and Seyfried, I know they’re somehow related, but their story doesn’t make much sense either.
“Love the Coopers” is basically another movie that looks like a massive explosion at the Christmas Comedy Screenplay Factory. It recycles so many elements from other Christmas films and introduces a climax so clunky and forced, it becomes downright unbelievable.
These are all wonderful actors, but they have no chance to create characters here. No context or motivation is convincing in the slightest and feels slapped together as the film progresses. It does have some good moments in the first 40 minutes or so, but after that, everything (and I do mean everything) heads south and never recovers. Not to mention another great talent is wasted in the form of Steve Martin, who narrates throughout the entire film.
I have until Jan. 1 to make my list of the 10 worst films of 2015, but I think it’s safe to say that I have a spot reserved for this movie. I loved these actors, but I didn’t “Love the Coopers.”
(Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language, and some sexuality.)