‘Love the Coopers’ fails to create a unique message

Ella Cook

While most holiday movies focus on the positive aspects on the Christmas season, “Love the Coopers” takes a much deeper look into the holidays. In doing so, however, it fails to convey a cohesive message.

The Cooper family joins together on Christmas Eve.
The Cooper family joins together on Christmas Eve.

The film has a similar format to movies such as “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve,” where four separate stories intertwine themselves at the end.

Despite an attempt to create suspense before combining the separate storylines toward the end, the relationships between the stories and characters were clear far too soon, which took away from the suspense of the relationships. A sense of uncertainty as to how the characters are related would have given the movie a better resolution.

The movie begins with the story of Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam Cooper (John Goodman) as they prepare for their grown children to return home on Christmas Eve. This portion of the film focuses on the couple’s turbulent relationship, and how they plan to end their marriage come the new year.

While the relationship between Charlotte and Sam is a convincing portrait of an unsteady marriage, their dialogue lacks humor and becomes repetitive at times. Each scene depicts the couple fighting about their family, which becomes tiresome to watch.

The most interesting storyline was the ongoing relationship between Ruby (Amanda Seyfried), a young waitress at a cafe in Pittsburgh and Bucky Cooper (Alan Arkin), a retired teacher. Their stark difference in age makes the tale of these two stand out from the other stories in the film.

The story of Ruby and Bucky had the clearest and deepest message out of all four, because it was the most realistic. Additionally, comedic moments were integrated into some of the more sentimental scenes. One of the most memorable scenes was when Bucky begged Ruby not to leave, though a few moments after Bucky proclaimed his feelings to Ruby, the camera quickly cut to the background of the kitchen in the the restaurant to show the restaurant workers. This provided a slight comedic tone, as the sentimental scene took place in an unconventional area.

The story of Eleanor Cooper (Olivia Wilde) and Joe (Jake Lacy) was almost as interesting. When Eleanor’s flight lands early in her hometown of Pittsburgh, she meets Joe, a soldier who is returning home to Pittsburgh. Eleanor quickly learns Joe’s flight is delayed until the morning after Christmas and invites him to pose as her boyfriend in front of her family.

Through their time together, Eleanor learns she has many political differences with Joe, which leads her to believe they could never actually date. As time progresses, however, Eleanor learns to look past these differences and begins to realize she has feelings for Joe. While this story is very unrealistic, the message is convincing.  

This portion of the story provides a clear meaning and a few funny moments. One of the most memorable scenes is when Eleanor and Joe ride the escalators in the airport in opposing directions, causing other travellers to become angry.  

The least practical story was about Emma Cooper (Marisa Tomei), the sister of Charlotte. Her story begins at the mall, as she attempts to steal a brooch for her sister in an to outdo Charlotte’s gift. When she is caught, a policeman arrests her.

This section is mainly based on the car ride to the police station, which becomes boring at times. There is no diversity of setting in the scenes, as it all takes place in the police car.

While it is hard to relate to the character of Emma due to her actions at the mall, the message of this story, which focused on the competitive relationship between sisters Emma and Charlotte, is very realistic.

In the ending scenes, as the whole Cooper family joins together, each of the separate stories becomes connected in a satisfying culmination of events. The competitive relationship between Charlotte and Emma is clearly brought out during the family dinner scene.

One highlight of the film was the soundtrack. The music included classic Christmas tracks such as “O Holy Night,” and “Soul Cake,” performed by Sting, which provided a familiar, holiday feel to the movie.

Overall, while each separate story had a deeper message, the movie itself lacked a clear message. Despite the lack of cohesiveness, the movie did redeem itself with a diverse cast and upbeat classic holiday music.