A lot of good people attached their name to this festive, family abomination, as if the caveat of ‘Christmas movie’ is enough of an excuse to do something really bad. John Goodman, Dianne Keaton, Ed Helms, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and Amanda Seyfried are all among the names to fall for this flaccid and saccharine embarrassment. It’s staggering that a script so poor even got off the ground to begin with. Lots of people must have owed a lot of other people a lot of favours.
Christmas With the Coopers tracks four generations of the Cooper family getting ready for Christmas day together, whilst getting into various ‘hilarious’ mishaps. It’s overstuffed with characters, with ‘highlights’ including one estranged sister (Marisa Tomei) being caught shoplifting before posing as a psychiatrist and diagnosing the cop’s psychological problems as compensation for her freedom. There’s the teenage son who nervously won’t talk to the girl he likes, before eventually making out with her in front of his parents, whilst in the hospital waiting room awaiting the results of his Grandfather’s stroke. Then there’s the father (Alan Arkin) who’s the sort of amiable chap that hangs around in cafes perving on a waitress 60 years his junior whilst wearing a bowtie and jovially pontificating on the merits of Charlie Chaplin movies. June Squibb’s grandmother farts whilst her dementia leads to more hilarious consequences. It’s a bizarre idea of family fun, with every gag jarringly off key and off beat.
There’s another storyline regarding one of the daughters (Olivia Wilde) hooking up with a handsome solider in the airport, deciding to take him home and making him pose as her boyfriend to appease her parents. There’s a weird, Jesse and Céline (Before triology) ripoff going on here, with both characters walking and talking and verbally sparring their way through their freshly developing relationship, which is the closest the film gets to anything even remotely average but even this has no depth or genuine sweetness.
The entire feel is so odd structurally. With Steve Martin’s narration blurting in with some cringeworthy, sugary summaries every few minutes, it’s like the entire film is built on sentimental endings upon sentimental endinsg. Sentimentality is fine, especially at Christmas, but you’ve got to have characters which are even remotely likeable to expect this to work.
This is certainly not an necessary addition to the Christmas movie cannon and if the box office is anything to go by, it looks destined to disappear without a trace.
Review by David Rank
Christmas With the Coopers is out now in the UK and US. Rating 12a (UK). Running time 107 mins