It’s that time of year again and as the festive season gets into full swing yet another Christmas film is released in cinemas everywhere. Following the plot of just about every Christmas movie ever, the Coopers’ dysfunctional family come together to celebrate the holidays and attempt to repair their family. In the style of Love Actually, the film revolves around separate intertwining stories, each as predictable as the next, eventually cumulating in the family all joining together to celebrate Christmas.
Narrated by Rags the dog, voiced by Steve Martin, we see Sam and Charlotte Cooper (John Goodman and Diane Keaton) at the cusp of separation after the death of their youngest daughter, trying to hold their 40 year old marriage together for one last family Christmas. The couple play host to their two other children Hank (Ed Helms), recently divorced and unemployed, and Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) a spirited adulteress who brings home a right-wing, deeply religious soldier (Jake Lacy) in an attempt to hide her love affair with a married doctor. And their Grandfather Bucky (Alan Arkin) who brings along his regular waitress and frankly strange romantic interest played by Amanda Seyfreid. Alongside all of this Marisa Tomei is a petty shop lifter, Anthony Mackie is a robotic police officer who comes out as gay and June Squibb plays the loony old Aunt who sits in the corner and farts.
The film itself feels far too strung out and quite honestly could have lost half of its plot to make it into a better film. The beginning is stretched in order to set up all the different story lines which will be miraculously worked out in the final 5 minutes. I feel that if the film was cut down to the meatier more prominent plots, it would have made for a far less superficial telling of the separate stories.
But as we all know modern Christmas films aren’t going to be a director’s Magnum Opus, they are a way to draw in an audience and give families something to do in the holidays. For a cheesy Christmas film, Christmas with the Coopers does live up to expectations, but it is no replacement for the classics.
Image: Gage Skidmore; Flickr.com