If dogs could talk what a tale they would tell. And if Steve Martin was the voice of a talking dog, well you know it’s going to be a good story. In Love the Coopers, dogs can talk and Steve Martin is the voice and he narrates a wonderful story. Winding in and out of the troubled lives of each of the Cooper family members and how Christmas brings them all together.
Starting with Bucky (Alan Arkin) father of Charlotte (Diane Keating) and Emma (Maris Tomei) and best friend and father figure to Ruby (Amanda Seyfried).
Bucky is a retired teacher who visits a particular café every day where Ruby happens to work. He has a connection with Ruby and they talk about cinema sometimes even twice a day. She happens to know more about his life and he knows more about hers than their own families.
Bucky’s daughter Charlotte is the older of the two daughters. She is married to Sam (John Goodman) who is trying his absolute best to keep the marriage alive. But Charlotte doesn’t want to keep trying to make the marriage work now the children are all grown up. But they’re playing happy families for one last Christmas dinner.
Emma on the other hand, she’s never quite felt like her life went the right way, always outdone by Charlotte. She’s not married, doesn’t have children and has a deep hatred for her sister. So much so Charlotte isn’t worthy of a bought gift, only a stolen one.
Charlotte and Sam have two children together, Hank (Ed Helms) and Eleanor (Olivia Wilde).
Hank is in a greatly dysfunctional relationship with his ex-wife Angie (Alex Borstein). While they attempt to maintain a relationship for their children, the kids can’t stand them fighting and bickering all the time.
Hank’s too shy to start dating again because he met Angie in high school where they conceived their first child.
Then there is Eleanor, unmarried but in a relationship with a married man. That’s before she randomly meets Joe (Jake Lacy) at the airport bar. And since all the flights are grounded and Joe has no better offer, he ends up pretending to be Eleanor’s fiancé so she doesn’t have to deal with the questions from her mother.
And that brings us to how Christmas can change everything in one night. The Coopers all have their problems in their own lives. But once they are together, the magic of Christmas brings all these individual stories into one. And from there the spirit of Christmas helps each and every one of them realise all they need is their family and everything will work out.
Love the Coopers is a fun touching Christmas film. A film where you can sit down, switch off and have a laugh or an eye roll at someone else’s family dealing with Christmas before you deal with your own.
Directed by Jessie Nelson who is most known for her directorial masterpiece I am Sam. Nelson manages to capture the superb cast, letting the actors show the true emotion in their own way. Each expression not missed with lots of close ups and long pauses.
However Steven Rogers who wrote the screenplay doesn’t get off so easily. Rogers has written some other questionable screenplays dealing with love and family; P.S. I Love You, Kate and Leopold and Stepmom.
While he manages to build a nice character, where he fails is not being able to bring all the characterism’s together. Almost forgetting he gave a particular trait at the start of the film and never recognising it again when the script was calling for it.
Visually the film captured the essence of Christmas, well in America at least. A busy mall, falling snow, more food than one person could possibly cook let alone a whole family eat.
Like most Christmas films there are Christmas carols, but thankfully not too many. Though Love the Coopers does move into a sing along where everyone happens to know the lyrics to a song that most people have never heard of.
Overall Love the Coopers is a lovely warming Christmas spirited film that makes you leave the cinema thinking that maybe the voucher you got your sibling you don’t like isn’t the right gift.
You meet the individual characters and their stories and come to appreciate that it’s not just your own family that has its problems. But in the end thanks to the magic and spirit of Christmas Love the Coopers is one big happy family brought together by its dysfunction, just like everyone else in the world.
Review by Jay Cook