coopersYou Can't Choose Your Relatives
Love The Coopers
Stars: John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde, Ed Helms, June Squibb, Jake Lacy, Anthony Mackie, Michelle Veintimilla and Marisa Tomei
Director: Jessie Nelson
Scriptwriter: Steven Rogers
Composer: Nick Urata
Imagine Entertainment
Rating: R for language and themed material
Running Length: 110 minutes
Oh, the holidays. They bring together the good and the bad, the functional and dysfunctional, children and pets, people without homes and families and people who wish they didn't have a family home. Thus is the story of the Cooper family as written by Steven Rogers who has a keen eye for dialogue and director Jessie Nelson, who lets actress June Squibb do her thing. Oh, yes, and no family is without a pet and here it is Rags, the dog.
There are several stories going on here and they all come together at the holiday dinner table. Sam and Charlotte (John Goodman and Diane Keaton) are married and getting separated. They argue all the time. Daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) reluctantly comes home and at the last minute, persuades a young soldier, Joe (newcomer Jake Lacy) to be her boyfriend for 24 hours so the family will leave her alone about being single. Charlotte's sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei) has always been jealous of Charlotte and ends up explaining this to a police officer, (Anthony Mackie.) Aunt Fishy (June Squibb) is there for the embarrassing comments along with her buddy, Rags, the dog.  Grandfather Bucky (Alan Arkin), a retired teacher, has tried to tutor a former student, Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) to get her  into college. Uncle Hank (Ed Helms) is single and really likes Ruby from afar. There you have it, the Cooper and extended-Cooper family getting ready for another holiday, while the audience keeps track of everyone and what they are up to.
Each character and their situation is given screen time and there are plenty of humorous moments. What doesn't ring true, though, is the marriage between Charlotte and Sam (Keaton and Goodman) . Neither seems comfortable in their role. Keaton plays her Charlotte as dithering with her hands, while Sam is in the background. The people who steal their scenes are Squibb and Alan Arkin. As the seniors here, they show how it is done, quietly and effectively. Newcomer Jake Lacy works well with Olivia Wilde as the rent-a-boyfriend couple.
"Love The Coopers" may not be everyone's cup of tea at the holidays, but if you have ever had to prepare a special dinner, or know that some people just don't get along in the same room, you can relate. It seems as though in Hollywood, all large dinners have a problem that prevents people from eating there, and it carries through to this movie, too. Even so, for a beginning-of-the-holiday-season movie, "Love The Coopers" serves it up alright. 
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner