This may look like it's going to be a zany Christmas romp, but it's really a warm exploration of family connections, essentially an American take on Love Actually's multi-strand comedy-drama. At least it has an unusually strong cast and moments of hilarity scattered throughout the story. And while it's never very deep, the themes are strongly resonant.
The Cooper family is gathering for what Charlotte (Diane Keaton) hopes will be one last perfect Christmas together. She knows that her 40-year marriage to Sam (John Goodman) is on the brink, but is ignoring that to plan a massive dinner. Their son Hank (Ed Helms) is stinging from divorce and unemployment, while daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) has picked up a hunky soldier (Jake Lacy) in the airport and asks him to pose as her boyfriend so her family will stop asking about her love life. Meanwhile, Charlotte's father Bucky (Alan Arkin) is trying to cheer up his favourite waitress (Amanda Seyfried), and Charlotte's sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) is delayed when a cop (Anthony Mackie) arrests her for shoplifting.
Narrated with wry joviality by Steve Martin, the interwoven stories are fairly simplistic, but each touches a raw nerve. And the above-average cast brings out the underlying themes without overplaying their scenes. Keaton and Goodman add subtle shades to the slightly undemanding central roles, while Arkin finds a couple of new textures to his usual twinkly grandad persona. Helms and Wilde strike the right balance in their intriguingly unlikeable roles, while Tomei gets the most complex character as a woman who feels like she's merely watched her life drift along. By contrast, the outsiders played by Seyfried, Lacy and Mackie are much less defined, but each actor brings just enough magnetic energy. The most wasted performer is June Squibb, as a ditzy old aunt who's little more than the requisite gross-out relative.
Continue reading: Love The Coopers (aka Christmas With The Coopers) Review
Charlotte Cooper is the family matriarch and all she wants is for her family to be together at Christmas. All her children are now grown up and some have kids of their own. Like most families, their bond over the years might've loosened slightly as day to day life gets in the way but Christmas is different, it's a time to reunite and enjoy the holidays together.
Easier said than done with the Cooper's. Charlotte and her husband have decided to divorce (a secret they plan on keeping from the family as to not destroy the family break) their oldest daughter lives in another state, is out of work and has been dumped by her partner and is hates the idea of going home and facing the family whilst their son is currently dealing with his daughters back-chatting ways. As many problems are there are, there must be a way through in the spirit of Christmas.
Director Jessie Nelson has described The Coopers as The Christmas Von Trapp family commenting: "I like to say The Coopers are The von Trapps of this Christmas. They are the von Coopers,"
Charlotte Cooper is determined to make this Christmas the best holiday the family has ever had, given that it's the only time of year when everyone's together. But, of course, while she and husband Sam are struggling to get everything perfect, everyone is equally struggling with other areas of their lives. Daughter Eleanor has been single for a while now, and the last thing she wants to do is arrive home without a boyfriend - again! And so, she convinces a soldier she meets at the airport to accompany her to her Christmas family reunion and pretend to be her partner, to which he reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, the other daughter, Emma, gets in trouble with the police for jewel theft, and their son Hank has his work cut out when it comes to caring for his young daughter Madison alone; especially when she starts to learn some seriously unfriendly words.
Continue: Love The Coopers Trailer
In the film, Sam Dawson (Sean Penn) is a mentally challenged single father raising his daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning). Sam is a sweet, good-natured man who earns a living by sweeping up at a local coffee store. His mental capacity is that of a seven-year-old, and as his daughter turns seven, she begins to intellectually outgrow her father. Soon, their lives come under the scrutiny of a social worker, who, "for the good of the child," wants Lucy placed into foster care.
Continue reading: I Am Sam Review
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