Not quite sure where to start with this one. Overall, it would certainly be classified as a holiday film. Is it an enjoyable holiday film? I guess that’s up to you to decide. The film is obviously going for that whole “realistic” holiday scenario which I can respect. The parents have a broken marriage, mom’s sister is a kleptomaniac, grandpa is lonely, son is going through a divorce, and daughter is avoiding the inevitable inquisition as her lack of a love life. Also, presumably Love the Coopers was to be the way you end a letter “Love, The Coopers” as per one scene when the mother was signing a Christmas card, but the lack of punctuation is either trying to be cheeky or we are just supposed to Love the Coopers. You would think it would be more obvious as to what essence they were trying to convey.
With an ensemble cast, there are quite a few storylines to keep track of as we try to figure out the connections. It often times felt like because there were so many different stories within this one film, I spent a good time trying to figure out how people were related.
For instance: Diane Keaton’s role of matriarch made perfect sense, but flashbacks to her childhood showed a sister no more than five years younger than her. That same sister turned out to be Marisa Tomei, who looks anywhere from late 30’s-early 40’s while Keaton looks the age they cast her as, mid 60’s- early 70’s. They are actually only 19 years apart but still far too wide an age gap for the younger versions of themselves that were cast. Not to mention, Alan Arkin plays Keaton’s father. He is only 12 years her senior. I’m not one to get caught up in the true age of actors. Their job is to sell us the role they were given but when they look far younger or older than the role they are cast, or they just truly look their true age, there’s a struggle. My issue is that these scenarios in terms of ages, don’t work.
John Goodman played the patriarch who misses the woman (Keaton) whom he originally married as she has been tied up in their “children” for the last 30+ years. Ed Helms is the too kind father of three going through a divorce. Olivia Wilde plays the daughter who wishes to avoid her mother’s gaze and “acceptance” of the fact that she’s still single. Alan Arkin plays grandpa with a strong (platonic?) friendship with Amanda Seyfried’s character. He plays a lone restaurant patron, and she his waitress.
I think I enjoyed small details like flashbacks to childhoods, more than the characters themselves. At one point a random, security guard has a flashback to all of his holiday kisses, their dog Rags remembers when he was a puppy Christmas present, the sisters are swapped for their younger counterparts during an argument and it’s a nice way to make everyone more relatable.
The movie had some wonderful moments, sweet and tender. It also had some realistic storylines (I personally related to Wilde’s brash liberal and somewhat isolating character) but I’m not sure everyone(or anyone) will view them as “likable” in the this movie. Which is normally okay, but Christmas movies should majority likability amongst characters, right?
There was an understandable need for everyone to be paired in the end , but it felt somewhat contrived. In the case of the character Seyfried played, especially. In the end, I thought it was a cute movie. I probably won’t see it again and would not categorize it as an instant “classic”. Not sure I would go so far as to say that I Love the Coopers, but I enjoyed them enough.