Friday, November 13, 2015

Love the Coopers [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (L)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) ()  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (K. Walsh) review () review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review  

Love the Coopers [2015] (directed by Jessie Nelson, screenplay by Steven Rogers) is truly a "different kind" of "family Holiday movie" that I'm not surprised irritated a fair number of the critics above.  Why?  Well, it's IMHO _not intended to be cheerful_.  Instead, again, IMHO, it's intended to be a reality check and then on _multiple levels_.

For while this is a movie nominally about Christmas:

(1) GOD / CHRISTIANITY IS NOT MENTIONED AT ALL, NOT ONCE, IN THE FILM (Honestly, on the surface "What else is new?"  This would seem like "standard Hollywood fare" of the past generation or two).  Instead, the story is about a fairly large (by Anglo/US standards of today) multi-generational family (starring a remarkable all star cast) many of whose members are really focused primarily on their particular hurts, slights and issues.

Yet (2) IN THE BACKGROUND of this multidimensional story in which A LOT of the characters are trying to get their lives together (if only for the day) and "to have a decent enough holiday this time around," PLAYS A RELENTLESS (and GENTLE) SOUND TRACK THAT HAS MORE RELIGIOUS CHRISTMAS CAROLS IN IT THAN I'VE HEARD (in an American movie) IN MY 52 YEAR LIFETIME -- Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High, We Three Kings, Good King Wenceslas, Little Drummer Boy.  (What's going on? ...)

AND (3) the story is largely set up / told THROUGH A KINDLY, EVER-PRESENT NARRATOR FIGURE WHO SEEMS TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT ALL THE CHARACTERS (including ALL THEIR PAST FAILINGS, HURTS and DISAPPOINTMENTS) and when AT THE END OF THE FILM it's revealed WHO that NARRATOR is, I certainly chuckled, smiling-from-ear-to-ear in recognition.  Very, very clever ;-)

Yes, this is NOT a movie to play on Christmas Day (or even Thanksgiving Day).  BUT IT'S NOT A BAD MOVIE TO WATCH IN THE LEAD-UP TO THESE GREAT LARGELY FAMILY HOLIDAYS:  What are we doing?  Why?  And can we at least open ourselves TO THE POSSIBILITY that "Someone out there" (call it "The Force" if you have to ...) wants us / ALL OF US to be happy.

Excellent and surprisingly good / thoughtful film!

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