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.