Starring: Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Amanda Seyfried, Alan Arkin, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde (Rated M – 107 min).
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas when families dust off National Lampoons Christmas Vacation from the DVD drawer or Home Alone or my personal picks Die Hard and The Ref. Every year Santa also arrives at the cinema.
During the opening stanza and introduction to the clan of four generations in Love The Coopers, one may experience a sense of movie memory recall from the 2005 eccentric unconventional family Christmas film The Family Stone. It’s practically the same movie with the same lead actress in Diane Keaton as matriarch. Not a remake but the similarities of bittersweet Christmas cheer are dubious.
Beginning with falling snow, a harmonic carol, people dressed at their festive best scampering around stores for last minute gifts with Santa Claus walking by, you know what you’re going to get. A well worn formula made redeemable by an excellent ensemble with a huge dollop of saccharine charm.
Married for some 40 years, Sam (John Goodman) and Charlotte (Diane Keaton) are looking forward to having their entire extended Cooper family under one roof for Christmas Eve. Sam is intent on telling everyone they are getting a divorce much to Charlotte’s suppressed panic. Family dynamics are already complicated, adding holidays into the mix only amps up anxiety so along the way certain individuals are either dealing with dilemmas or having trouble arriving on time.
In one of the more obscure scenarios hanging around an airport bar, daughter Eleanor (an under appreciated Olivia Wilde) strikes up a conversation with a soldier before talking him into joining her to meet the parents. The brilliant Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) as Grandfather Bucky shares magical screen time with young Ruby (adorable wide eyed Amanda Seyfried) as unlikely coffee shop friends who’s enlightening conversations are on the verge of ending due to Ruby leaving town.
Emma (Marisa Tomei) finds herself in the back of a patrol car when caught stealing an expensive gift for sister Charlotte. No quite Love Actually, however just like that yuletide themed classic, multiple story arcs interweave during this reunion. Scene stealing veteran June Squibb as Aunt Fishy falling asleep at the most inappropriate times may bring a smile.
Comedy, romance, redemption and true Christmas spirit explored throughout with an experienced cast worth the ticket especially when the honesty sessions start after one too many cups of eggnog. As you may expect, Hollywood royalty Diane Keaton shows particular range amidst established co-stars, although it may be no It’s a Wonderful Life. Seek out The Family Stone for better Keaton silly season viewing.
Shane A. BassettSydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.