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Love the Coopers: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Love the Coopers (2015) movie poster Love the Coopers

Theatrical Release: November 13, 2015 / Running Time: 107 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Jessie Nelson / Writer: Steven Rogers

Cast: Alan Arkin (Bucky), John Goodman (Sam Cooper), Ed Helms (Hank Cooper), Diane Keaton (Charlotte Cooper), Anthony Mackie (Officer Williams), Amanda Seyfried (Ruby), June Squibb (Aunt Fishy), Marisa Tomei (Emma Cooper), Olivia Wilde (Eleanor Cooper), Jake Lacy (Joe), Alex Borstein (Angie), Jon Tenney (Dr. Tony Morrissey), Timothιe Chalamet (Charlie Cooper), Steve Martin (voice of Rags), Maxwell Simkins (Bo Cooper), Blake Baumgartner (Madison Cooper), Molly Gordon (Lauren Hesselberg), Lev Pakman (Schnozzle Whitehead), Bolt (Rags)

Buy Love the Coopers from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD + Digital • Instant Video

There are primarily two kinds of Christmas movies being made these days, both of which can be classified as family comedies. There are the movies that involve Santa Claus and his relationship to our world: things like The Santa Clause, Elf, Fred Claus, and so on.
Then there are the more adult-oriented movies that usually depict contemporary family celebrations of the holiday. This class would include your Four Christmases, Christmas with the Kranks, Deck the Halls, and the like. Love the Coopers clearly belongs to the latter tradition. It's a family movie you might take the kids along to, not one the kids drag you to. This multi-generational tale may purport to be all-ages entertainment, but it's rated PG-13 and most likely to be appreciated by adults, particularly adults who have low standards or do not see many movies.

Narrated by what is revealed to be -- spoiler alert! -- a family dog (who sounds a little like Steve Martin), the film divides our time among many different narratives involving different parts of a big family apparently residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sam (John Goodman) and Charlotte (Diane Keaton) are quietly on the cusp of a separation, largely over the fact that they still haven't taken a trip to Africa he wanted to go on thirty years ago. The two put on smiles and shield their relatives from these plans.

In "Love the Coopers", Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) meets Joe (Jake Lacy), a soldier on leave for the holidays who agrees to pose as her boyfriend.

Their divorced son Hank (Ed Helms), a secretly out-of-work department store photographer, scrambles to find a new job, nervously snorting all the way. His acne-riddled teenaged son (Timothιe Chalamet) pursues his love interest at her mall job. At perhaps the same mall, Charlotte's sister Emma (Marisa Tomei, who in the film's understanding is just a few years younger than Diane Keaton), gets caught trying to shoplift a brooch with her mouth. She is subjected to the world's longest car ride from Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie), a robot-like closeted bachelor she tries to counsel from the backseat.

The older generation is represented by Aunt Fishy (Nebraska's June Squibb), whose memory is failing her. There is also Bucky (Alan Arkin), a retired professor who is Charlotte and Emma's father but spends more time with Ruby (Amanda Seyfried), a diner waitress who is planning to move to Hot Coffee, Mississippi.

While these plots come and go, the film devotes the most time of all to Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), Sam and Charlotte's unlucky in love daughter, who sparks up a romance at the airport with Joe (Jake Lacy), a grounded soldier in his Army fatigues. He's a Christian and a Republican. She's very liberal and seeing a married man. But this being Christmas, what could possibly go wrong when Joe agrees to pose as her boyfriend for her family? (He could make them fake-engaged with a random blurt.)

Separation-bound Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam Cooper (John Goodman) sing Christmas carols at a nursing home, but disagree on some of the lyrics.

Martin's narration feels an awful lot like Alec Baldwin's omniscient voiceover on The Royal Tenenbaums, which is absolutely the only way you'll be reminded of Wes Anderson's masterful comedy about a family of underachieving geniuses. Coopers may strive for such comparisons, but instead it reminds you of much stupider movies, including Garry Marshall's dreadful ensemble romcoms Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve and 2013's wretched The Big Wedding.
I haven't seen The Family Stone, though I may not need to after this. The proceedings also lean closer to the lowly Kranks, Halls, and Surviving Christmas than Christmas Vacation or Martin's overrated Parenthood.

Earning Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam, Corrina, Corrina) her first directing credit since 2001, this dreck assigns screenplay credit exclusively to Nelson's Stepmom co-writer Steven Rogers, who has also made himself scarce in Hollywood since penning a trio of poorly-reviewed romances (Hope Floats, Kate & Leopold, P.S. I Love You). Neither is likely to find themself in demand after this collaboration.

The movie piles on the Christmas with an almost ceaseless stream of holiday songs...plus Bob Dylan and Nina Simone. It also pushes us to bask in the joy of Christmas with a parade of brief flashbacks to childhood memories. And as an offering to critics, moments are lifted from classic films that Arkin's character has evidently recommended to his favorite waitress.

The reason there are so many Christmas movies is because the festive season is such a major part of the year for so many people. Even if you can't buy into North Pole lore anymore, who can't relate to the tensions that arise from observing the holidays with family? The problem is too many Christmas movies follow the formula unimaginatively. They blanket you with holiday colors and songs, hoping you won't notice how cookie cutter the chaos and conflict they're feeding you is, only to inevitably opt for the warm fuzzy redemption finale.

With the exception of the finest adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (the one yuletide redemption story by which all other are measured and fall short), a number of the best Christmas movies are the ones with more to say than "Christmas, huh?" Beloved movies like It's a Wonderful Life, Die Hard, Home Alone, and Gremlins offer inventive stories that simply happen to take place in part or in full around the holiday.

Love the Coopers feels like a feature film version of a 2015 sitcom Christmas episode. It runs five times as long and the last couple of episodes seem especially unnecessary and belabored. But many people at my theatrical screening laughed as if they haven't been exposed to such uncreative gags before as a dog getting into human food, a grandma who farts, and a true romance based on lies. In the press rows was silence. My fellow critics and I did not share their joy at being exposed to such tired farce again. Get ready for "Hate the Coopers" jokes. You would be much better off watching your favorite Christmas movie yet again than looking for something new and noteworthy here.

The world's slowest arrest becomes a therapy session, as Emma (Marisa Tomei) plays backseat doctor to the robotic Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie).

Traditionally, Christmas movies have taken longer than non-holiday fare to reach home video, sensibly arriving on disc (and before, that videocassette) the following holiday season, or close to a year after they opened in theaters. (The one notable exception: Ben Affleck's reviled 2004 dud Surviving Christmas, which opened in theaters shortly before Halloween and was on DVD two months later by Christmas.) As theater-to-video windows continue to shrink, it doesn't always make sense to employ that timing and wait to sell a movie after it has long since been forgotten. So, CBS and Lionsgate have spared a long wait, bringing Love the Coopers to DVD and Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD on Tuesday, with artwork suggesting a Valentine's Day theme and a synopsis that describes the occasion as a "reunion" rather than Christmas. We'll see how that works out for them.

Love the Coopers: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Service)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish; BD-only: English
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided discs (BD-25 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.95 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Love the Coopers may have all sorts of problems, but none of them keep the film from looking sharp on Blu-ray in a clean, crisp 2.40:1 transfer and sounding fine in a 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix that dispenses the abundance of licensed music and score without issue.

Director Jessie Nelson only agreed to appear in the making-of featurettes if she could speak in front of a shot of Rags the dog. The DVD and Blu-ray menus bathe "Love the Coopers" stills and scenes in gold.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray and the DVD get the same four extras, though the BD naturally presents them in high definition.

First up is "Making the Coopers" (12:12),

an unremarkable standard featurette full of cast and crew talking heads and bolstered by a tiny bit of behind-the-scenes footage. They discuss the characters, the themes, and their beloved director.

"Rags the Dogs" (1:16) celebrates the film's canine, with crew members all speaking highly but briefly of the dog.

"Fun On Set" (0:54) marvels at the children of the cast

Next up comes the music video for "The Light of Christmas Day" (3:21), the original end credits song performed by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. It is comprised entirely of footage from the film, which it shows off at length, with dialogue filling in the song's lyricless pockets. (Extending the "NOT a Christmas movie" motif, the packaging interestingly omits the song's title.)

Finally, "Trailers" repeats the six full previews with which the discs open: Miss You Already, The Choice, Don Verdean, The Duff, The Big Wedding, and Last Vegas. Love the Coopers' own theatrical trailer is not included.

The golden menus rotate gold-tinted stills and clips while music plays. The Blu-ray supports bookmarking and also resumes unfinished playback.

Sporting the same full-color artwork and making it difficult to distinguish one from the other, the two discs are joined by a Digital HD UltraViolet insert in the eco-friendly blue keepcase that is topped by a glossy, textured slipcover.

Grandpa Bucky (Alan Arkin) makes a daily diner visit to see Ruby (Amanda Seyfried), his favorite waitress.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Love the Coopers will disappoint you at any time of the year. This joyless Christmas comedy, now being marketed like a Valentine's Day-ready romance, is too annoying and stupid to make good use of the large, talented cast it has assembled, resulting in one of 2015's worst movies. Lionsgate's combo pack looks nice and has some basic extras for those few who enjoyed the movie and are ready to revisit it long before Christmas returns.

Buy Love the Coopers from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD + Digital / Instant Video

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Reviewed February 4, 2016.



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