"brings a sort of unexpected story to the Christmas table, but manages to still envelop us in the winter holiday spirit"
Usually as the winter holidays and December come along, we get a few festive themed films. This year it it Christmas with the Coopers, a family film written by Steven Rogers and directed by Jessie Nelson. The movie gathers quite a few well-known names such as Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Amanda Seyfried, and many more.
The motion picture starts in a very festive way, with generic Christmas-related images only to eventually settle on the characters. In the middle of everything, we find Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam (John Goodman), a couple which have been together for 40 years. However, no matter how similar they might look at first sight, they have managed to become strangers to one another. The film implies that the loss of a child many years back was the one to cause the main problem in their family, and after that everything started to slowly crumble.
We also get to meet their grown up children: Hank (Ed Helms) and Eleanor (Olivia Wilde). Hank is a jobless, recently divorced man with three children and not too much stability in his life. He is frustrated with the lack of work and feels pressured to provide for his family on a daily basis. Eleanor is a playwright who, after some disappointments on the love front, decides to take the sarcastic and enclosed approach towards a love life. She has an affair with a married man and dreads moments which underline her actual loneliness. Eleanor is so certain of how much her personal life is a disappoint that she ends up asking Joe (Jake Lacy), who she meets at the airport, to come home with her for Christmas, as her boyfriend, just so she can avoid her family looking at her in a certain way. “You would make my parents so happy! Isn’t it the Christian thing to do?”
On the other side of the family, we meet Charlotte’s sister Emma, her father Bucky and a very funny Aunt Fishy.
Now, Emma (Marisa Tomei) has always felt left out and of course clings to any opportunity to catch for attention. On Christmas Eve she ends up stealing a broach which yes, almost puts her behind bars, but also manages to teach her a moral lesson. Bucky, (Alan Arkin) together with Aunt Fishy (June Squibb), bring the wise elders of the family to the table.
Bucky isn’t having his best day, and is heartbroken at the news that his favorite diner waitress, Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) is leaving town. However, without knowing, he offers her the motivation to maybe change her mind “Such a fuss! When everything we want is right in front of us!” Memory-challenged Aunt Fishy seems to enjoy every minute of her existence, even if sometimes she believes she might be a tad younger than she actually is “Why waste a moment? We’re here for such a short time!”
Of course, as the story develops we get to witness the characters change opinions and undergo various transformations that might reshape the initial course of the story. However, the plot and these adjustments aren’t necessarily the most unexpected ones. Sadly, what the story lacks is that new added value which tends to keep you locked on whatever is happening in front of you on screen.
However, beyond that, the cast is very well picked: Diane Keaton and John Goodman present us with a very real and easy to relate to, typical parental Christmas holiday picture. Ed Helms brings out that insecurity of Hank and Olivia Wilde manages to portray beautifully that unique pairing Eleanor has inside her, pairing which contributes a lot to her personal charm.
Christmas with the Coopers brings a sort of unexpected story to the Christmas table, but manages to still envelop us in the winter holiday spirit. Full of flashbacks and with a not so classic story, the film is worth paying some attention to on a cold December evening.