Love the Coopers (CBS Films, PG-13)

love the_coopers_75“This kind of film” is quick to please; rarely memorable, but generally pretty enjoyable, too.

  

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Most years find the release of a nice, big-family-comes-home-for-the-holidays type of movie sometime around Thanksgiving; think 1995’s Home for the Holidays or 2005’s The Family Stone. (Some non-Thanksgiving/Christmas-specific films fall into this category, too, like The Royal Tenenbaums or This is Where I Leave You.) This year’s entry is Love the Coopers, which, as you can probably guess, follows the Cooper clan: patriarch Sam (John Goodman), matriarch Charlotte (Diane Keaton), bad daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), good son Hank (Ed Helms), questionable daughter Emma (Marisa Tomei), good daughter Ruby (Amanda Seyfried). There’s the crazy aunt (Aunt Fishy, to be specific, here played by Nebraska’s June Squibb), and, of course, many of the characters bring along baggage in human form: Emma gets tangled up with a police officer (Anthony Mackie) while Christmas shopping (or Christmas shoplifting, to be more specific), Eleanor enlists a squeaky-clean G.I. (Obvious Child’s Jake Lacy) to play her boyfriend and thereby keep her mom off her back about the subject, etc. Elsewhere, Ruby is a waitress and source of infatuation for a professor (Alan Arkin) who frequents her diner. Hank is going through a separation, and to complicate things further with him, he has an awkward, barely-pubescent son named Charlie (Timothée Chalamet). Charlie spends most of the movie trying to get a girl who is out of his league, Lauren (Molly Gordon), to kiss him, because of course he is. It’s that kind of film.

And “this kind of film” is quick to please; rarely memorable, but generally pretty enjoyable, too. Love the Coopers is no different; if you’re looking for an easy distraction this should work just fine, but if you’re looking for a movie you’ll remember and want to return to at a later point in your life, perhaps you should look elsewhere. Further, Love the Coopers is one of those films that has problems blowing any goodwill you start acquiring for it; right around the time you start to think it’s a surprisingly decent movie, a really dumb, too-broad scene will pop up, and you’re back to square one in terms of liking it. (The movie could have been substantially improved if the Charlie character had been eliminated entirely. Or maybe killed in a stampede at the mall early in the movie—that would have been cool.)

There’s nothing particularly good or bad about Steven Rogers’ script (it’s probably the best thing he’s written so far—he’s the guy behind such schlock as Stepmom and P.S. I Love You) or Jessie Nelson’s (I Am Sam) direction, so the thing that is most deserving of whatever success Love the Coopers achieves is the ensemble cast. All of the film’s various actors range from blandly likable (Lacy, Helms) to historically strong (Goodman, Keaton, Tomei), with no particularly weak links, at least among members of the cast over the age of 25.

In conclusion: Love the Coopers is pretty good. Shrug. | Pete Timmermann

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