If you’re the sort of person who likes to know exactly what’s waiting under the tree on Christmas morning, this creaky, old-fashioned festive comedy might be for you. ‘Christmas With the Coopers’ ticks literally every home-for-the-holidays box going, in dutiful, uninspired fashion.
So there’s the older couple (Diane Keaton and John Goodman) stocking up on canned cranberries, waiting for the kids and wondering where the years went. There’s the divorced son (Ed Helms) looking for a romantic miracle, and the single daughter (Olivia Wilde) who needs to learn not to be so independent and to find a good solid guy (Jake Lacy). There’s the lonely old man (Alan Arkin), the awkward hates-everything teen (Timothée Chalamet) and even the dotty old woman (June Squibb) who dispenses inappropriate language and twinkly wisdom in roughly equal measure.
There are flickers of wit and even insight: Steven Rogers’s screenplay ticks along nicely, and at least one storyline – between Marisa Tomei’s restless lonelyheart and Anthony Mackie’s closeted gay cop – feels like it’s going somewhere vaguely interesting. But the climax is painfully predictable (yes, someone keels over into the mashed potatoes, paving the way for much hugging, learning and growing) and the final moments, in which we discover the source of the film’s intrusive, patronising voiceover, are simply vile. The result is rather like stuffing yourself with Christmas pudding: it’s sweet, glutinous and all a bit much.