Christmas with the Coopers review: A starry cast can’t save this seasonal story

Make way for a blitzkreig of Christmasiness – and a terrible waste of a talented ensemble

Yawn: Diane Keaton and John Goodman in Christmas with the Coopers

Film Title: Christmas with the Coopers

Director: Jessie Nelson

Starring: Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Diane Keaton, Jake Lacy, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, Steve Martin

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 106 min

Mon, Nov 30, 2015, 11:00


Decades ago, when Halloween meant apple bobbing and a raisin-based dessert, a Hollywood Christmas was a sight to behold: a bonanza of seasonally themed jumpers and perfectly dimensioned gift boxes all tied up with impossibly beautiful ribbons.

Nowadays the rest of the world enjoys the same jumpers and gift boxes, and the Hollywood Christmas has lost much of its lustre.

But director Jessie Nelson just won’t stand for it. Christmas with the Coopers pulls out all the stops with an unending blitzkrieg of Christmasiness: there will be carolling, holiday-card perfect tobogganing, gingerbread houses, gingerbread persons, and – for all we know – 11 lords a’ leaping.

The lavishness doesn’t end with the diabetic-coma inducing treats: here comes the starriest of ensemble casts. Steve Martin’s narration – a mash-up of The Wonder Years and ’Twas the Night Before Christmas – rounds up a ding- dong of subplots.

The meet- cute romance between Republican-voting GI Joe (Obvious Child’s Jake Lacy) and emotionally muddled artist Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) is just what we wanted; the incomprehensible friendship between elderly patriarch Bucky (Alan Arkin) and damaged waitress Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) however is like receiving socks – in the wrong size.

Some narrative strands half work: Anthony Mackie’s uptight arresting officer is interesting company, but even the reliable Marisa Tomei can’t do anything with the thankless spinster character who finds herself in the back of Mackie’s police car.

It’s a terrible waste of talent. Bah, humbug.