LOVE THE COOPERS – Review by Susan Granger

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It’s really difficult even to like the Coopers, despite the holiday theme and star-studded cast. Read on…

Charlotte Cooper (Diane Keaton) presides over a magnificent kitchen, its gleaming granite countertops jam-packed with appetizing edibles. Once a year, four generations gather under one roof on Christmas Eve – and she wants everything to be perfect.

Problem is: perpetually flustered Charlotte has a dysfunctional family and chaos reigns. With Steve Martin providing an omniscient narration, their individual and collective angst is revealed.

Knowing that her mother fervently wants her to find Mr. Right, struggling playwright daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), who is having an affair with a married man, recruits Joe (Jake Lacy), a conservative Christian, soon-to-be deployed soldier whom she meets in an airport bar, to pose as her boy-friend.

Meanwhile, dejected son Hank (Ed Helms), a mall photographer who snorts when he laughs and is divorcing his wife Angie (Alex Borstein), arrives with their kids, including a sullen teenager and a five year-old who crudely repeats: “You’re such a dick!”

Charlotte’s envious, spinster sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) shoplifts, so she’s whisked off in the back of a police cruiser driven by a closeted cop (Anthony Mackie).

Lonely Grandpa Bucky (Alan Arkin) still has an eye for young ladies, particularly an insecure waitress (Amanda Seyfried) at the diner he frequents. And there’s flatulent Aunt Fishy (June Squib).

To top it off: Charlotte is planning to end her 40-year marriage to Sam (John Goodman) after the festivities conclude, perhaps because Sam is determined to finally take a long-postponed trip to Africa – with or without her.

Given this cast of characters, one might hope for humor. But none is forthcoming from screenwriter Steven Rogers (“Stepmom”), whose flaccid, contrived dramedy is peppered with flashbacks and telegraphed deductions, as director Jessie Nelson (“I Am Sam”) vainly evokes memories of the classic comedy “Born Yesterday” (1950), directed by George Cukor and produced by my father, S. Sylvan Simon.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Love the Coopers” is a tedious 3. Loath is more suitable.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.