Love The Coopers

Every family is dysfunctional to a degree, some more than others. The Coopers, Sam (John Goodman) and Charlotte (Diane Keaton), a couple whose 40-year marriage has lost its energy, have a family with issues galore. Charlotte wants one more happy family Christmas celebration before they split.

Love, The Coopers is like an edgier Hallmark Christmas movie, with cast members who are better known. Like a Hallmark movie, things generally work out. Like a Hallmark movie, there are few non-white faces. Unlike a Hallmark movie, a few impolite phrases are uttered and bodily functions draw attention. But don’t worry: LTC is safely PG-13.

Cooper offspring include Hank (Ed Helms) and Eleanor (Olivia Wilde). Hank’s marriage to Angie (Alex Borstein, best known as the voice of Lois Griffin on Family Guy) is breaking up. Among their three kids is son Charlie (Timothee Chalet) who is at that awkward age and is especially awkward at kissing.

Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) is a flirty type who picks up cute serviceman Joe (Jack Lacy) at the airport and drags him to the family’s Christmas Eve dinner as her pretend boyfriend. Their verbal jousting (over political and religious differences) provides some of the film’s highlights.

Emma (Marisa Tomei) is Charlotte’s younger sister with whom a sibling rivalry persists. She is busted for shoplifting at the mall. She does some amateur counseling from the back seat of the patrol car for the quiet cop (Anthony Mackie), who opens up about his sexuality.

Guests at the Christmas dinner table also include Charlotte and Emma’s dad Bucky (Alan Arkin) and his favorite diner waitress Ruby (Amanda Seyfried). Also, an addled aunt played by June Squibb is more cute than funny. Narration for the story is by Steve Martin.

Love, The Coopers—I added the comma to indicate that it refers to a Christmas card signature, not a command—is a not unpleasant holiday film. But it’s not as touching as The Family Stone (which also starred Keaton) or It’s A Wonderful Life, not as funny as Christmas Vacation or the Santa Clause movies. I’d put it right around Christmas With The Kranks level in the Christmas movie rankings.

Ted

Will you like “Ted?” Well, do you like “Family Guy?”

“Ted” is a rude, crude and hilarious movie with a heart. Mark Wahlberg is John, a 35-year-old underachiever who has a real, live teddy bear for a best friend. He also has a girlfriend, Lori, played by Mila Kunis, who wants him to ditch the bear and get on with his life.

When he was an 8-year-old, John got a teddy bear for Christmas. He made a wish that the bear could be real and…it happened! The bear became famous. Appeared on the Carson show! Now Ted has grown up with Wahlberg and is a sarcastic, pot-smoking has-been.

Kudos to all involved for making Ted appear so real. A combination of motion-capture and animation has rendered an on-screen Ted that is nearly flawless.

Ted is voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who also directed and co-wrote the movie. MacFarlane is the brains behind “Family Guy”—he’s the voice of Peter and Stewie Griffin and Brian the dog—and two other animated TV shows.

“Family Guy” fans will enjoy cast members Alex Borstein, the voice of Lois Griffin, and Patrick Warburton, who voices Joe Swanson, in their minor roles in “Ted.” (I wonder why Seth Green, who voices Chris Griffin, was not included.)

“Ted” has many cool cameos and a quick tribute to an early 80’s film comedy classic. Speaking of voices, Patrick Stewart provides the film’s opening and closing narration.

Trimming away some excess would’ve resulted in a tighter, better movie. Getting us to a happy ending made the film too long. But the funny lines and scenes are abundant, good taste is lacking and audiences will be howling at “Ted.”