What a difference a comma makes — or would make, in the case of Jessie Nelson’s lumpy, wretchedly unfunny Love the Coopers, whose title commands us to love people it’s impossible even to like.
Diane Keaton and John Goodman head up a family that’s supposed to be delightfully dysfunctional but is really just a clutch of ill-conceived characters forced into sub-sitcom situations: Son Ed Helms is a deflated, divorced dad who’s been hiding his joblessness from his family for months; daughter Olivia Wilde feels misunderstood by her parents and acts out like an unbearable two-year-old. To make things extra-complicated, Mom and Dad are planning to separate just after the Christmas holiday — they can’t take it anymore, and by the end of Love the Coopers, neither can we.
There are one or two places where the picture almost ignites: Alan Arkin plays the family’s gruff-love granddad, who has befriended a diner waitress (Amanda Seyfried) — at one point he tells her that he feels closer to her than to anyone else, and their tender kinship is the most believable element of the movie.
Otherwise, if you’ve been wishing and hoping for a movie in which June Squibb — here playing a dementia-riddled relative named Aunt Fishy — shows her underpants yet again, you’ll love Love the Coopers. For the rest of us, to know them is to hate them.
Love the Coopers
Directed by Jessie Nelson