Love the Coopers
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Love the Coopers is an ensemble holiday dramedy about three generations of a Pittsburgh family who gather for Christmas (the cast includes (Alan Arkin. John Goodman. Ed Helms. Olivia Wilde. Diane Keaton. and many more). Heavily narrated and featuring nearly a dozen characters (including the family dog), the movie deals with some mature themes, including divorce, adultery, marriage, unemployment, abandonment, and loss -- in addition to adolescence, dementia, kleptomania, and loneliness. While there are some silly gags and several scatological jokes about poop, body odor, etc. most of the movie is focused on adult relationship issues that likely won't appeal to teens. Adults also drink casually and discuss their sexual history. There's occasional strong language (including "s--t" and "p---y") and some passionate kissing, including teens who kiss in a silly but graphic way (tongues out).
What's the story?
LOVE THE COOPERS is the story of the titular Cooper clan. Charlotte (Diane Keaton ) and Sam (John Goodman ) are hosting their family Christmas in Pittsburgh, even though their marriage is coming to an end. Their children -- unemployed, divorced dad of three Hank (Ed Helms ) and single playwright Eleanor (Olivia Wilde ) -- are both dealing with personal and professional crises, as is Charlotte's younger sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei ), who has been arrested for shoplifting, and grandpa Bucky (Alan Arkin ), who's mourning the thought of his best friend, young diner waitress Ruby (Amanda Seyfried ), moving out of town.
Is it any good?
This entry in the "dysfunctional family reunion" subgenre is surprisingly unfunny and -- with the exception of a few sweet moments -- a waste of the ensemble cast's considerable talents. The entire film looks so dark and grim that audiences may wonder whether they're watching it through a washed-out filter. It's that unsettling. And most of the characters' ages don't make any sense. Keaton and Tomei have a 20-year age difference but play sisters (not impossible, but unlikely!), and Arkin is only a decade older than Keaton. He'd be more believable as Keaton's husband than her dad. On top of the obvious age discrepancies, the movie suffers from a predictable, plodding script and remarkably unlikable characters.
Wilde gets a lot of screen time as Eleanor, a writer who's sick of Charlotte wondering when she's going to settle down. At the airport bar, Eleanor meets a handsome soldier (Jake Lacey) with whom she shares an instant attraction. They end up pretending they're together so Eleanor can get through the night with her parents. There are many other subplots, including a vaguely romantic connection between Ruby and Bucky, who goes to the diner daily just to talk to her, and a strange police-car dialogue between Emma and the cop who arrests her (Anthony Mackie ). But it never adds up to anything meaningful. It's a shame that a movie with so many memorable actors could fall so flat.
Families can talk about.
Families can talk about the popularity of holiday movies. How does Love the Coopers compare to other holiday films about families? Why do you think holiday movies about families tend to feature so many mix-ups and feuds?
How do the many family members deal with their assorted problems? Which relationships seem healthy? Which seem unhealthy?
Would you have been interested in seeing this movie if the cast had included lesser-known actors?