Eye For Film >> Movies >> Christmas With The Coopers (2015) Film Review
Christmas With The Coopers
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
What does this title say to you? The worst of Chevy Chase, or the best festive fare since It's A Wonderful Life?
Neither of the above. It asks, who are the Coopers? Should we care about them? Family movies in Santa's grotto tend to involve mistletoe, tripping over the tree and catered meals that look so delicious half the cast would have heart attacks if they attempted the full menu.
This is different. Diane Keaton is one of the producers as well as playing the matriarch and you don't associate her with mind blind nougat sticky corn waffles. You know about ensemble pictures, soap operatic sub plots, dysfunctional couples killing each other with the language of the lost, artificial smiles disguising deep rooted disappointment. You know about this, but you don't know everything. You have't met the Coopers.
They're not waving, they're drowning, kept afloat by hot air and a barrel of hope. After 40 years, Charlotte (Keaton) and Sam's (John Goodman) marriage is coming apart at the seams. Their grown up children are emotionally skewered. Hank (Ed Helms) is too intense and smiley at interviews ("I was a failure at marriage. I don't want to be a failure at divorce.") Emma (Marisa Tomei) is arrested for shoplifting and then shrink wraps the cop (Anthony Mackie) who is driving her to the clink by giving him a therapist session about his repressed homosexuality, while the narrator keeps us on track ("She remembered the moment she felt unremarkable"). And then there's Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), the youngest. Marriage is a no-go area for her. She's sharp witted, a man magnet and cynical as all hell. At the airport bar, she picks up a gentle, dull, uniformed Christian Republican (Jake Lacy) on his way to a first assignment in Afghanistan, or somewhere equally brutalised, and invites him over for Christmas with the Coopers. "You're my boyfriend," she tells him. He looks blank before raising the bar and informing Charlotte that they are engaged.