Movie blurb: "When four generations of the Cooper clan come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday."
This was the first semi-public (unlimited ticket holders only) screening at the brand new, just opened Cineworld cinema, 2 minutes walk from my house and I really wanted to like it. Although this type of US comedy usually leaves me cold I’m more than willing to suspend a degree of cynicism and embrace some schmaltz in a seasonal movie. Christmas film makers note – I’ll make a ton of allowances for acting and production values if you can make me cry, even a little bit. (One Magic Christmas anyone?)
So with belief duly suspended I braved the howling storm and went to this special showing clutching my temporary printed out unlimited cinema membership. The cinema is shiny smart AND has escalators! Disclaimer: I haven’t been to the cinema for about 15 years so I may be a little too easily impressed. The staff were lovely, genuinely helpful and there was a palpable sense of excitement and nerves in about equal measure. The theatre itself was comfortable and wow, so much room in front of the seats nobody has to stand to let people pass any more and there are cup holders! For all I know these ‘features’ could have been introduced 10 years ago or be brand new to this cinema, but having just woken from a ’15 year cinema gap’ coma, I was impressed.
I wasn’t quite so impressed with the film, sadly. It felt like a retirement fund booster for the senior members of its stellar cast, Diane Keaton, John Goodman and Alan Arkin. The storyline was weak, fragmented and seemed like it was trying too hard to appeal to every demographic from teenagers to the elderly with a black, gay, cop thrown in for good measure. The only time I laughed out loud was some gentle poking at the stereotypical values of a Fox News watching, evolution denying, anti-gun control Republican. Easy target. On a positive note the snowy Christmas settings were beautiful, the soundtrack included Nina Simone and Otis Redding, and the cast included a very handsome doggy. However, for me, the reveal at the end just tied up the trite in a nice, neat Christmas bow.