It is always good to see Diane Keaton in a film and executive producing at that, but Love the Coopers simply misses. A yearning for saccharin sweetness permeates. Good raw, honest relationships could make a film like this work, but this is not what Love the Coopers is about. This is a pastiche of stories of a family of four generations returning home for a Christmas dinner while you wonder, "When's dessert?" This is a film with many fine actors, but the writing and story by Steven Rogers are the problem. Alan Arkin as Keaton's father is his usual greatness who is in love with a waitress, Amanda Seyfried who is her competent and beautiful self. John Goodman is Keaton's husband who is still smitten with Keaton who wants a divorce after forty years. Ed Helms is unhappily married to Alex Borstein (Getting On) whose part is too small and ill-conceived for her fine talents. Marisa Tomei is Keaton's sister who has been in conflict with her feelings for Keaton which causes Tomei to steal jewelry for Keaton. Tomei is arrested by Anthony Mackie in an improbable part of a policeman who confesses secrets of his sex life to Tomei, his prisoner. Tomei makes her moments genuine despite the absurdity of the writing. Timothee Chalamet's talent as a passionate teenager is one of the highlights of this film. When he appears, any lull is dispelled and hope for the film's ability to entertain is ignited. But whenever June Squibb rears her body and mocks aging, the film sinks into its very deep toilet. Squibb plays a caricature instead of a character and makes aging disrespectful while Arkin gives it gravitas and class.
Olivia Wilde holds the film together as her part is written with the most depth and creativity, but the tight shots of her in a train while she is romancing a GI, Jake Lacey, whom she just has picked up, cable her beauty, when these tight shots are not necessary. One can see her beauty in a longer shot, but to crop in like a Revlon ad is distracting from the story which already is held together with scotch tape. The cinematographer meanwhile at the closing of Love the Coopers, films Diane Keaton through an overly soft lens to hide her wrinkles, yet when she is in conversation with Olivia Wilde, her wrinkles are apparent and she looks beautiful. After all her wrinkles are part of her charm. As executive producer I am certain she had a say in her lighting, and while her acting is flawless her vanity is not. Jessie Nelson directs this great array of talented actors, but Nelson's experience is slim and it shows in Love the Coopers. Meanwhile throughout the film there is a voice over which is irritating. It is too thin and just doesn't work. Love the Coopers needed a melodious yet powerful voiceover from someone like a Morgan Freeman. Then I discovered the mystery voice was Steve Martin's, and realized Diane Keaton and Steve Martin had been in Father of the Bride Parts 1 and 2 together. It became apparent with Keaton's star power, that the stars came out, but a star a film does not make.