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“Love the Coopers” misses the mark

Rating: C+

To get everybody into the spirit of Thanksgiving, it seemed just the right time for CBS Films and Lionsgate to release a film about Christmas. The Cooper clan in “Love the Coopers” is already planning for their annual Christmas Eve celebration where they will share the best and worst parts about their lives (but mostly the worst) from recent months. In the true fashion of a family gathering, nobody can bear to tell the others just how bad their lives have been.

“Love the Coopers” features an ensemble cast, meaning nobody is considered a main or secondary character. Therefore all character backgrounds and current stories must be told. This made it confusing right from the get-go. The stories and backgrounds for each character were told during the same period of time, causing many of the scenes to be abrupt and pointless. Just when you were fully engrossed in one character, you moved on to the next without notice, which made it difficult to grasp the main story.

Things started to clear up about one-third of the way through. Olivia Wilde’s character Eleanor was bashed heads with a U.S. Army soldier named Joe. Sam and Charlotte Cooper, played by John Goodman and Diane Keaton, tried to repair their marriage; and Charlotte’s sister Emma tried to resolve the life struggles of a “robotic” police officer who was played by Anthony Mackie. Eventually everything came together for the characters when they all arrived for Christmas Eve dinner.

Members of the audience really only cheered for one part of the story, and that was for the curious relationship between Eleanor and Jake. Meeting for the very first time in an airport bar, it seems like the perfect setup for a cheesy romance film. They laugh, tell each other about their problems (especially their less-than-perfect families) and even toss a few clever insults each other’s way. When the relationship turned into something stolen directly from “The Proposal,” it became one of the better highlights of the movie.

Remaining in the background of the story, yet taking up one of the most important roles, was the family dog. It was not known that the dog, voiced by Steve Martin, was actually the narrator until the end of the movie, yet he was present in many of the scenes. The third-person (or third-dog) perspective is not necessarily the best option for a film, but the writers made it work.

This film really tells the story of how many family members feel when meeting their loved ones at Christmas time. Each has their own hardship to deal with and something is always bound to go wrong when the family is brought together, and things really do go wrong for the Cooper family.

If you are an avid fan of seeing others in turmoil, this film is for you. Despite its untimeliness and the fact many people do not want to worry about their holiday shopping right now, it offers a widely-regarded, feel-good ending and a sense of unbreakable family bonds. Yes, there are many problems with its creation and its execution, but this one garners a variety of different opinions from those who watch it.


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