Meet the Coopers; they're a everyday American family that suffer from everyday American problems. Oh look, they're getting together for Christmas. Don't bet on anything interesting happening though - this film is about as flat and uninteresting as you can get.
With an extensive ensemble cast - including Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde and Marisa Tomei amongst others - Love the Coopers promises a festive family-friendly filled with sweet meet-cutes, marital drama and teenage insecurities all set against a snowy Christmas backdrop.
It's hoping to recapture the spirit of hilarious Christmas comedies like Love Actually and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; the cast all inhabit a typical familial archetype, from Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), the tearaway daughter who dreads the festive get-together to Hank (Ed Helms), the recently divorced single father struggling to make ends meet. Tying the whole brood together is Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam (John Goodman), the ageing parents who are scared of life after the kids have all flown the coop.
Except, unlike those films I just mentioned, Love the Coopers simply that lacks bite. It lacks drama or edge and almost everything that ties the plot together is made of this flabby, vanilla material that just doesn't do anything to excite or engage with the audience. It's desperately trying to be a sentimental throwback to the sugary Christmas films of old, even down to the fact that the fucking dog (Steve Martin) narrates their lives, but it just skates on by without any real drama or consequence.
For every plot strand that works (Olivia Wilde and Jake Lacy have an extended airport meet-cute that could work as the basis for a movie all by itself), there's another that totally shits the bed; Anthony Mackie and Marisa Tomei are given a thankless storyline that involves the former arresting the latter for shoplifting and then driving her to the cop shop - in, presumably, another State given the amount of time it took them to drive there.
It does feel a little harsh to hate on a film that has such good intentions, but when you have talented actresses like Amanda Seyfried and Diane Keaton signing on just to collect a paycheck, the whole affair does feel a little bland and contrived. The film really doesn't justify its own existence by even attempting anything outside of the norm - it just plops down on the screen like your balding uncle after Christmas dinner.
The Verdict: 3.5/10
Love the Coopers is like an idyllic Christmas card with a portrait of everyone sitting around smiling and singing carols; bland, conventional and kinda boring. There are one or two plot strands that tickle, but on the whole the film fails to make the most of a talented cast.
Love the Coopers is in cinemas across Australia now.