Story by Adam Winn, Staff writer
The trailer for “Love the Coopers” makes the film out to be a Christmas-themed romantic comedy, when in actuality it is more of a dramedy that just happens to take place at Christmas time. Audience members should bring a box of Kleenex with them, because this movie is created to be a tear-jerker.
The plot for this film contains many interconnected stories that lead up to a family’s Christmas Eve celebration dinner. First is the story of Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam (John Goodman), a couple that has been married for 40 years and currently contemplating divorce.
Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) is the adult daughter of Sam and Charlotte and is on her way back home for the family dinner. At the airport bar, she runs into Joe (Jack Lacy), a marine who is also on his way home for Christmas. After talking for a while, Eleanor asks Joe to pretend to be her boyfriend at her family’s dinner party, because she fears judgment from her parents since she is single and has no children. Out of all of the storylines this one is focused on the most, which is fine because it ends up being one of the more interesting subplots in the whole movie.
Charlotte’s younger sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei), is a pessimistic, middle-aged woman who gets arrested after she gets caught trying to steal jewelry for her sister as a Christmas present, but ultimately makes a surprising connection with her arresting officer (Anthony Mackie) on her way to jail. Even though the acting is great in this segment, it is probably one of the less significant storylines in the actual film.
Hank (Ed Helms) is Charlotte and Sam’s oldest child and is going through a divorce. Apart from trying to find a new job after being laid off, he’s raising his three kids with help from his estranged wife.
Finally, there is Bucky (Alan Arkin), Charlotte and Emma’s father, who makes an uncommon connection with a young, troubled waitress named Ruby (Amanda Seyfried). Without spoilers, this is one of the saddest storylines in the film, so audience members who cry easily should have some tissues ready.
Certain viewers may think that the film is too cluttered with numerous storylines and find it hard to focus on just one. However, each storyline brings its own uniqueness to the film, and while some could have been shortened, they each accomplished their goal of getting their intended message across. Without spoiling any of the important plot points, the movie does a great job of conveying the human condition and addressing how people deal with the private internal battles that they are always facing.
After viewing, the film may remind the audience of the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” One of the main themes that the film tries to convey is that everyone has inner demons and how people deal with those demons is what makes them who they are. Sometimes people have to confront their problems head on in order to grow and move past them.
The audience may also be caught off guard by the film due to some of its serious subject matter, with themes like divorce, religion, suicide, sexuality and death. While these may be taboo subjects for certain people, they each add a certain amount realism to the film’s plot, which makes it more believable.
The film contains great acting from all actors, but the performances that outshines the others are by Wilde and Arkin. Even though these two don’t have much interaction in the film, they each bring a certain presence to the movie that makes you feel real sympathy for what their individual characters are going through.
If viewers are looking for a happy Christmas movie, like “Elf,” then they are going to be disappointed with this film. However, if they are looking for a film that deals with real-life subject matters, but also contains some comedic elements and happens to be set around Christmas, this is a good film to check out.