Sunday 6 December 2015

Review: Christmas With The Coopers

World of Blackout Film Review

Christmas With The Coopers Poster

Christmas With The Coopers (aka Love The Coopers)
Cert: 12A / 107 mins / Dir. Jessie Nelson / Trailer
WoB Rating: 3/7

Oh. Is this where Diane Keaton and John Goodman are at, now? As actual actors? I expect this level of afternoon-whimsy from Ed Helms and Amanda Seyfried (and even The Voice Of Steve Martin™, to be honest*1), but even so.

Still, I imagine a guaranteed seasonal repeat-fee is a nice little earner, isn't it?*2

As four generations of the Cooper family congregate for their annual festive celebrations, we get an insight into their individual lives; their ups, their downs, their loves and losses. Yeah, it sounds like hard work, doesn't it? Don't blame me, I didn't write the film…

As is so often the case with Hollywood's Portmanteau-Lite™ subgenre of gentle comedy*3, Jessie Nelson spins far more plates than is feasible for a feature film, and only a couple of those feature anything worth picking over. Like any buffet though, you're not really supposed to like everything that's on offer (even though, crucially, you've paid for it all anyway). Like the film's metaphorical progenitor Love Actually, the viewer here can't spend enough time with the individual threads to build the emotional connection that the finale expects. Although you don't have to worry too much as the film will tell you what to feel, anyway.

Stylistically, not to mention narratively, the film is all over the place; barely even a first-draft of a screenplay, more a notebook full of ideas - good and bad - exorcised equally by releasing them onto paper. Only in this case, followed by no further revision process. Occasionally witty, charming and touching (courtesy of Marisa Tomei and Olivia Wilde's respective segments), two minutes later the film goes back to being mawkish, condescending and about as spiritually earnest as the Coca Cola truck…

Oh, and which casting director managed to sneak through the idea of Diane Keaton (69) and Marisa Tomei (51) playing siblings with a six-year age gap*4? Don't get me wrong, they're both fine actresses, but when Tomei finally referred to her 'sister' while looking directly at Keaton, I nearly choked on my mince pie. Both actresses look fantastic 'for their age'*5, but they don't look the same age. Even cinematographer Elliot Davis has noticed the visual disparity, and whenever Keaton's alone in a shot, the focus is so soft that I thought I'd developed cataracts. Which only insults everyone further, to be honest. And speaking of casting, at least none of the film's exorbitant $18m budget went on those expensive child-actors. Oh, there are plenty of children in the film of course, just not actors...

But despite my moaning (and this is the truncated version, believe me), the film never becomes completely unbearable, but it's an over attentive host making small-talk with all the guests while neglecting the meal they're meant to be serving.

Ultimately, Christmas With The Coopers is probably a passable analogy for the gatherings which fill the holiday season, where you'll tolerate a room filled with fifteen people you don't like just to catch up with two that you do.

Perhaps this is the perfect Christmas movie, after all..?

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
*looks over spectacles*

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
The film doesn't even fulfil its remit to itself, no.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I will a bit, yeah.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
This disappointing movie features Olivia Wilde who also appeared in Cowboys And Aliens alongside Harrison 'Solo' Ford.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And before anyone gets all pissy in the Comments Section about me taking Steve Martin's name in vain, let me remind you that he plays a talking dog in this film. And that's not even the lowest point of his career, okay?

*2 Even after you offset it against your credibility. Or dignity. Or soul.

*3 Or so I gather, since I usually avoid them as they tend to involve Ashton Kutcher or Jon Bon Jovi. Or Matthew Morrison. Christ.

*4 That's a rhetorical question. Venus Kanani and Mary Vernieu are responsible for the casting of the film, I just didn't want to name them in the main body of the review. Not that they deserve any less admonition than the rest of the crew, mind…

*5 And seriously, I feel fucking awful for even using those words, but since the bone of contention is the gap between their ages, it's kind of a necessary evil. Look, don't blame me; I'm not the one walking up to Keaton and Tomei in a bar and saying "why, you two could be sisters!".

*6 And hey, thanks for reading all these footnotes. That means a lot. Although if you're reading this one then you've just skimmed down them in one go because there's no corresponding *6 in the review above. Which means you've probably read the others out of context, too. Fine. Not judging, just saying…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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