A Lot Of Weird Stuff Happens In This Christmas Movie

Ah, Christmas: when wacky, dysfunctional families get together and bond — in real life and in the movies. You've likely met the Griswolds and the Stones, and today, if you so choose, you can meet the Coopers of Love the Coopers. You'll likely go into Love the Coopers expecting to have your heart warmed, but you might be surprised to find a deeply strange movie. Love the Coopers has some schmaltz credentials. It's directed by Jessie Nelson, who also helmed I Am Sam, and was written by Steven Rogers, who co-wrote the weepy, '90s Stepmom with Nelson. It stars Diane Keaton, who seems to make only schlock these days. I went into Love the Coopers knowing I probably wasn't going to see a masterpiece, but at least hoping that something deeply silly would make me cry. Instead, I found myself feeling weirdly uncomfortable. Here are some of the oddest things that occur: 1. Minutes into the film, when narration kicked in, I had a feeling that it was going to be narrated by a dog. Specifically, the Coopers’ pup, an adorable mixed breed named, for the purposes of the film, “Rags.” Then I started to question whether this was indeed the case, as nothing, except my hunch, indicated that it was a dog talking. The narration was omniscient! How can this dog know so much? But I was right. This movie is narrated by a dog with the voice of Steve Martin. 2. This is actually a pretty depressing movie. Charlotte (Diane Keaton) and Sam (John Goodman) Cooper are breaking up. Their daughter, Eleanor (Olivia Wilde), is broken inside and in a relationship with a married man. (Meeting the cute serviceman played by Jake Lacy in the airport will change her ways, even though he's — gasp — a Republican.) Their son, Hank (Ed Helms), is going through a divorce and is unemployed. Charlotte’s sister, Emma (Marisa Tomei), feels unloved and ends up getting arrested by Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie), a closeted cop. 3. Age makes no sense in this movie. Alan Arkin (81) plays the father of Diane Keaton (69). Marisa Tomei (50) plays Keaton’s sister, despite being closer in age to Ed Helms (41), who plays her son. 4. Amanda Seyfried takes on the role of a sad waitress named Ruby. I choose to believe that Ruby is actually a vampire slayer on the run, biding her time at a diner because she just killed her one true love, à la Buffy at the beginning of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is a far more interesting backstory than the one we actually get for Ruby (your routine terrible childhood and alcoholic mother). Ruby has a special relationship with one of her customers, Bucky (Alan Arkin). It’s supposed to be a cute old man/young woman platonic relationship until suddenly it seems as if Ruby and Bucky may actually be in love. After Bucky has a stroke at the Christmas dinner table and is rushed to the hospital, Ruby kisses him on the lips before the doctor takes him away. 5. Ruby — a waitress in a diner — dreams of running away to Hot Coffee, Mississippi. You got that right. Hot Coffee. 6. At one point in the movie, Bucky talks about how when he was a waiter he would give ugly people free food. He calls it “treating the uglies.” This is said in the middle of a passionate confrontation. 7. Hank has recently been laid off from his job as a Sears portrait photographer. Unfortunately, this is Hank's passion. 8. It’s strongly implied that Hank and Ruby end up together — even after she kisses his grandfather on the mouth. 9. It’s very similar to The Family Stone, which came out in 2005 and also stars Keaton as the matriarch of a big family. More similarities: There's also a bitter sister (Rachel McAdams), a big secret (Keaton has cancer), and a conservative interloper (Sarah Jessica Parker). What’s up with that, Keaton? 10. A lot of people make out. 11. How does Emma find out that Officer Williams is gay? She pretends to be a shrink to get him to open up. They role-play! 12. The movie is chock-full of oddly placed fantasy sequences and flashbacks, which range from corny (young Charlotte and Sam romping in the snow) to sad and gross (Ruby's mother vomiting).

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