When I sat down to watch Christmas with the Coopers, I was expecting a typical festive rom-com : a cinnamon-scented dollop of overly-sentimental schmaltz, featuring the perfect family overcoming all sorts of minor disasters to have the perfect get-together for the holidays. It was a refreshing breath of fresh air to discover a totally dysfunctional family, starting with the seniors (and arguably, the biggest names on the all-star cast list), Sam and Charlotte Cooper, played by John Goodman and Diane Keaton. After forty years together, they have decided to divorce, but want one final merry Christmas together with all the family under the same roof before they tell the kids. What could go wrong? Well, with a family like theirs, pretty much everything !
With a sister arrested for shoplifting, a daughter convincing a stranger to play her boyfriend, a father bringing home a young waitress that nobody else knows and a son struggling with being a newly-separated single father, things don't get off to a good start. There were lots of moments that made me smile - the family dog (who narrates the story, with the voice of Steve Martin) constantly eating the food off the table and the ludicrous shoplifting attempt are both inoffensive examples. The young granddaughter welcoming everyone with "you're a dick" (a phrase overheard during her parents' arguments) raised a smile too, but unfortunately gives the film a 12-rating that means you can't watch it as a family.
This being Christmas, they're obviously going to get their happy ending and there wasn't even any need for Christmas magic - just a readjustment of the way you look at your life and taking advantage of the moment you're in while you're in it (sage words of advice from the doggie narrator, as he proves his point by helping himself to yet another sausage roll off the festive table !).
The film also stars Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Ed Helms, June Squibb and Amanda Seyfried. It won't win any Oscars but it's a nice, funny, heart-warming movie that will get you in the mood for Christmas.
star rating : 4/5
from Entertainment One
Available to download early 31st October
Out on DVD & On-demand 21st November
CHRISTMAS WITH THE COOPERS RELEASE INFORMATION:
Disc: Single disc DVD
Special Features: Making The Coopers, Rags The Dog, Fun On Set, “The Light of Christmas Day” Music video by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant