Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
“Dreck the Halls.” “O Unholy Night.” “Jingle Hell.”
These are some of the not very good alternative titles I thought of while resisting the urge to bolt during “Love the Coopers.” The more curdled-than-cuddly holiday film already had offended this former copy editor even before I entered the theater. Its crime? The lack of punctuation in its name.
A third-grader would know there should be a comma after “Love” since, as the holly-jolly folly of a cliché-engorged opening montage confirms, it refers to the clan’s preferred salutation on their greeting cards that duly employs, yes, a comma. As it stands, it sounds like a command. To which the correct response would be a resounding ho-ho-NO!—exclamation point included.
Normally I would place most of the blame on director Jessie Nelson (“I Am Sam”) for delivering such a jumbled, toxic snow globe of a movie complete with a brewing storm, caustic quarreling and excessive caroling in an effort to undercut sentimentality. But I suspect screenwriter Steven Rogers ("Hope Floats," “Stepmom”), is more to blame, if only for overstuffing the plot. There are too many trite storytelling devices, such as a narrator a la “A Christmas Story” on top of flashbacks of past holiday memories with younger actors who barely look like their adult versions. That the voice belongs to Steve Martin doesn’t help a whit. There are too many characters to even attempt to care about. And there is too great of a reliance on music both yuletide and not (Sting, Nina Simone and Bob Dylan) to fill in the emotional blanks.