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Title: Love the Coopers

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:74

“Love the Coopers” got DESTROYED at the theaters. I remember reading a dozen or so reviews around November/December and I know I couldn’t find a nice one of the bunch. Usually that means I wince and dread the upcoming film review, only claw the chair in anguish while chocking down the 1 hour and 47 minutes of pure drek. Interestingly enough I had a much different reaction on viewing. I admit that someone’s it’s hard to go against the grain. Even as a reviewer it’s difficult to like a movie that so many other critics just HATED beyond belief. In a sense it’s like peer pressure, but I “pride” myself in giving an honest a review as I possibly can, and in that vein I have to say that I really liked “Love the Coopers”. There’s some clichés and tropes that definitely bring the movie down a bit, but I ended up enjoying the zany and slightly depressing tone to the Christmas flick.

We all know that Christmas is supposed to be a peaceful, serene, picture perfect time of family gathering to celebrate the holidays, but it rarely ends up that way. I mean, just look at “Christmas Vacation”, “Christmas with the Kranks” and a billion other holiday films. What starts out as a happy time of familial gathering usually ends up with people yelling, talking behind the back and Uncle Ted passing out drunk behind the Christmas tree (or at least some other variation of insanity that happens when you cram half a dozen different family units under one roof for a few days).

It’s Christmas time again, and it’s been a tradition for the entire Cooper clan to get together for the holidays. However this might be the last year of coming home to mom and dad Cooper (Sam and Charlotte, played by John Goodman and Diane Keaton), as the two are waiting till AFTER the holidays to let the kids know that they’re getting divorced after 40 years of marriage and kid raising. Son Hank (Ed Helms) has been recently divorced from his wife, Angie (Alex Borstein), and is struggling to make ends meet and try to raise a pair of boys named Bo (Maxwell Simkins) and Charlie (Timothee Chalamet). Both of which are having their own problems. Bo is the youngest brother and has to watch Charlie suffer through the agonies of love, as well as the agonies of puberty, which almost seems worse. Charlie is desperately in love with a girl in his class and just gets up the nerve to ask her out, only to get beat up by the local bully, driving a seemingly large embarrassing wedge between him and his crush.

Hank’s Sister Eleanor is coming back into town, but she’s kind of the black sheep of the family. Scarred at a young age, she falls under the stereotypical woman who never wants to see her heart broken category and keeps her veneer up by not believing in love and sleeping with married men. Struggling with the dread of coming home and disappointing her parents once more by coming home alone, Eleanor hits it off with a young Soldier in the airport bar and decides to bring him home as her fake boyfriend, not realizing that the two of them hitting it off may spark something a little bit more than what she’s used to. No, I’m not done introducing characters yet. We have two more. With Sam and Charlotte the hosts of the party, there is till the case of her father, one Bucky by name. The old man has lived a long and full life, but he is technically alone. His wife has passed on and the only thing left he has is the friendship of a waitress named Ruby (Amanda Seyfried), who has her own loneliness issues to deal with. Needless to say, this hot mess of a family is going to meet under one roof and with each person being a veritable stick of dynamite, those Christmas candles may set something off this year.

As I said earlier. I really liked “Love the Coopers”. It takes some of the zaniness of the “Vacation” movies and blends it with some over the top dysfunctional family syndrome to make a very competent Christmas dramedy. Every single one of the Coopers are messed up in some way. Divorce, impending divorce, death, twue wuv, and sisterly jealousy. The story is told in little vignettes, with each individual story leading into the next. Each person has to deal with their own conflicts and their own tragedies before coming to dinner, but the thing is that they bring that baggage with them. There’s plenty of funny moments sprinkled throughout the film, but this is really a dramatic feel good movie with comedy born out of pain in the end.

I will admit that there is some flaws to the film. There are several times that the movie gets a bit carried away and the zaniness goes to level 11. Sometimes this takes the form of comedy, such as Charlie and his crush sharing their first very very VERY bad kiss (but then again, I think mine was utterly awful if memory serves me correctly… my mouth was like a dripping faucet), or Charlotte’s sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei), trying to fast talk her way out of getting arrested for petty theft. I can definitely see the faults in the film, especially with the fractured storytelling being something that has been done to death over the years. Still I had a blast with the characters themselves, even though I knew everything was going to turn out alright (or at least mostly alright). The worst offender of the bunch was the love at first sight relationship between Eleanor and Joe, the soldier. It felt awkward and definitely the most unrealistic bit of all. The rest was all good fun, and while not always believable, was certainly entertaining.


Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some sexuality

Video :4stars:

The 2.40:1 AVC encoded scope image looks very pleasing on Blu-ray with sharp detail levels and a nice looking color palette. There is a definite grey/blue tinge to the film (the same Teal hue that many modern movies are tweaked to look like), but there are plenty of other primary and secondary colors to saturate the film with. The white’s a brilliant and lightly blue tinges, with the oranges and browns and reds of the mall work as the perfect foil to the teal grading. Interestingly enough, the skin tones look a tad pasty throughout, almost like some of the color has been drained form the faces for some reason. Contrast looks a bit murky, but nothing much and the black levels are quite satisfactory with solid shadow replication.

Audio :4stars:

The audio fares as well as the video, with a solid 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix that fits the drama centric film to a T. dialog is the main feature of the film, and it is replicated nicely and cleanly. The front soundstage takes the brunt of the mix, as it is naturally front heavy, and most of the ambient noises come from those three speakers. There’s some solid surround activity with the music, as well as a few background tones, but largely the film tends to lean heavily towards the front of the room. LFE comes in a few times and punches a bit, but its main duty seems relegated to supporting the low end in the shadows. Offering just enough oomph to be needed, but not enough to really call attention to itself.

Extras: :2stars:

• “Making the Coopers” Featurette
• “Rags the Dog” Featurette
• “Fun on Set” Featurette
• Music Video by Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Love the Coopers” is a funny little dramedy that deals with the reality of life in an over exaggerated way. People are dysfunctional beings, and the illusion of perfect happiness is just that, an illusion. However that doesn’t mean that imperfect happiness can’t exist on this earth, and that is really what the film is all about. There are certainly issues with the pacing and some of the over exagerations, but the film itself is still a fun and heartwarming holiday film despite the obvious flaws. Audio and video look very nice, so I have to give this a nice “recommended” status.

Additional Information

Starring: Diane Cooper, John Goodman, Steve Martin
Directed by: Jessie Nelson
Written by: Steven Rogers
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Main Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 107 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 9th 2016

Recommendation: Recommended for a Watch.

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