Charlotte (Diane Keaton)

Charlotte (Diane Keaton)

Reel Reviews: Another Christmas dinner ruined

Taylor and Howe say, "Love the Coopers is a pretty package that might disappoint when unwrapped.”

  • Nov. 22, 2015 2:00 p.m.

All Charlotte (Diane Keaton) wants is to have her family together for Christmas. If she’s not careful she’ll get what she wants.

On the role call with her husband Sam (John Goodman) are Charlotte’s spinster sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) and their dad Bucky (Alan Arkin), who has brought his depressed, would-be girlfriend, Ruby (Amanda Seyfried), 52 years his junior. Also coming to dinner are Sam and Charlotte’s playwright daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) and unemployed, divorced son Hank (Ed Helms), with his three kids.

We say, “It’s a pretty package that might disappoint when unwrapped.”

TAYLOR: Sometimes it’s easy to think you know what you’re in for when you go to a Christmas movie: stress, arguing, being stupid to each other, feeling sorry, loving one another, usually something is set on fire and someone is mildly injured. Grandma has too much ‘nog and eats the gingerbread house. A busy person finds the time, a mean person realizes they could be nicer, a brat behaves.

All you need now is an ensemble cast. This one is pretty good. Alas, not all the pieces are falling into place in Love the Coopers without having also fallen in previous American holiday movies.

HOWE: I really enjoyed Love the Coopers, but I agree with you that it has all of the above points mentioned.

I would also agree that a movie like this should be awful, but Coopers has such a strong cast they pull it off. Keaton plays the role of mother/grandmother with ease, but then again she has been playing these same roles for the last 20 years.

Goodman always gives 110 per cent whatever roles he tackles, be it on TV or on the big screen. I personally think he should do more because he’s a great actor.

TAYLOR: I love Goodman and he’s fine, even when he’s being schmaltzy, but the clichés just seemed to keep rolling in. Everyone lying to each other about everything is maddeningly common in comedy. Sometimes it’s funny, it just wasn’t in this case. Their foibles were sometimes funny. I smiled a bit and the audience was laughing, but the overall actions distracted from my ability to like the characters.

HOWE: I really liked that each part of their lives were shown in their own little story, coming together for a final climax in the last 10-to-15 minutes. Each scene showed a glimpse into their lives, who they are or what they have become, going from childhood to adulthood, and the decisions that they make shaping their lives.

It may be a schmaltzy movie but it’s a good schmaltzy movie that made me laugh when needed and maybe, just maybe tugged at the heart strings a little bit.

TAYLOR: There were moments where the filmmakers seemed to want to deliver something artful. Their method almost worked. I guess my main complaint is with that we’ve already seen everything that’s in this movie.

– Howe gives Love the Coopers 3 pendants out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 2.5 censored trailers out of 5.

Reel Reviews with Brian Taylor and Peter Howe appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.