Hank (Ed Helms), their recently divorced son, is having a hard time. Between losing his job and his boys, Charlie (Timothée Chalamet) and Bo (Maxwell Simkins), not adjusting well to their new life, things are difficult.
Their daughter, Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), is dreading the visit. She knows it will be constant harassing about why she doesn’t have a boyfriend. While wasting time at the airport before having to head to her parents’ house, she meets Joe (Jake Lacy). Joe is a religious, 2nd Amendment supporting Republican, on his way overseas for another tour in the military. He is everything she is not. After spending time together in the airport, Eleanor convinces Joe to come home with her and pretend to be her boyfriend.
Charlotte’s sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei), is just a hot mess. She constantly feels slighted by everyone. Especially Charlotte.
Bucky (Alan Arkin), Charlotte’s dad, is a regular at the diner where Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) works. Despite the huge age gap, the two share a special bond. Nothing untoward is going on, but there is a definite connection. When Ruby tells Bucky she is moving away to start over, Bucky loses it.
When the family gets together, everything goes exactly as everyone expects.
Ed Helms is going through a rough patch. after the disappointing Vacation remake, he’s stuck in this movie. He’s fine enough in his character, it’s just a poorly written role. Timothée Chalamet and Maxwell Simkins, as his kids are pretty convincing in their roles. Timothée’s awkwardness seems authentic, and provides a decent amount of comic relief in a “comedy” that is sorely lacking any.
The cast is solid enough in theory. With the amount of big names they packed into this movie, it could have been a good movie. Walking into the movie, however, I commented that with so many big names, it was bound to be terrible. Unfortunately, I was right. There was no connection between any of the characters. The performances were so half-hearted, it almost felt like a high school play.
The story itself is unnecessarily complicated, trying to throw too many elements in, and connection on none. Alan Arkin and Amanda Seyfried have an odd relationship. The way it resolves itself at the end is even more absurd, and the explanation given makes no sense. John Goodman and Diane Keaton’s characters give us no reason to care about them or what becomes of their life. The trip to Africa they discuss throughout the entire movie is simply a throw away MacGuffin. It supposedly giving us the explanation for their entire relationship. Instead, I found myself asking, “What’s with the Africa trip thing?”
From the trailers, we are promised a lighthearted Christmas comedy. Instead, we are given a depressing, miserable, drama-filled weekend with a depressing, miserable, drama-filled family. It really puts a damper on what you expect from a Christmas movie.
Perhaps my biggest disappointment is with Steve Martin’s narration of the story. He provides commentary on everything going on, yet you never hear his voice from any of the characters. I wondered the entire time who was telling the story. Then we got to the end of the film. [SPOILER ALERT] As the movie ends, the dog goes to the window and looks out. Other dogs spending Christmas morning with their families go to their windows and look back at him. Steve Martin is the dog! The dog has been telling the story the whole time. It’s like a bad M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Love the Coopers had potential, it just didn’t deliver what was promised. It can be summed up as follows: Relationships suck. Family sucks. Everyone is miserable. Merry freaking Christmas. Skip this one.