Love the Coopers Review
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The holiday season is supposed to be a time of love, joy, and family togetherness—but, for many people, this time of year is more stressful than joyful. And if you’re already having anxiety attacks about those awkward Christmas dinners, the comedy of Love the Coopers definitely won’t help.

Love the Coopers takes place on Christmas Eve, as the various members of the Cooper family prepare for their annual holiday celebration—each one wrestling with some kind of issue. Hank (Ed Helms) is newly divorced and secretly unemployed. His sister, Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), dreads returning home to face her family’s looks of pity because she’s still single and alone. And their parents, Sam and Charlotte (John Goodman and Diane Keaton), are planning one last family gathering before they announce that they’re splitting up after 40 years together.

Love the Coopers is about as miserable as a Christmas comedy can get. Every character here is angry, bitter, heartbroken, nervous, or just plain stressed out—with the only possible exceptions being the youngest grandchild (who’s too young to notice the rest of the family’s misery) and the batty old aunt (who’s too crazy to notice the rest of the family’s misery). For the most part, that makes them pretty unpleasant people. They lie, steal, argue, and insult other people as they prepare to fake it through another family Christmas. And while the constant bickering could have been funny if handled differently, it just feels depressing here.

Meanwhile, it seems as though anyone who comes in contact with these people is pretty miserable, too. The outsiders tend to be lonely and depressed and uptight—except for Joe (Jake Lacy), the lovable soldier who meets Eleanor in an airport bar and instantly becomes the target of her bitterness and resentment.

Of course, there are some comedic moments—some wacky holiday antics mixed in—but they generally feel spastic and overdone. There are even a few moments when just a hint of heart shines through—but they typically feel awkward and unnatural.

Most of us can relate to the stress of trying to live up to the expectations of our family members—or of trying so hard to make everyone else happy that we make ourselves miserable. But instead of tackling these seasonal stresses in a way that’s amusing, inspiring, or even refreshing, this film seems to dwell on them, only to make them all magically fix themselves in the end. And not even a massive ensemble cast of talented actors can make it worth watching.

On the bright side, Love the Coopers may actually make you feel a little bit better about your own family gatherings this holiday season—but it could also stress you out even more. So you probably shouldn’t risk it.

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