The “found footage” style has most often been used to create genre horror films, and I think it is without hyperbole that “Cooper’s Christmas” is no exception. There are no witches or demons or exorcisms (last or otherwise). Just the Christmas from hell, and the creeping dread that we all face, that yes, this is your family, and they will never improve, now shut up and pass the Turkey.
The characters in Cooper’s Christmas are not likeable, relatable or believable, and you won’t want to spend more than 20 minutes with them. In other words, it’s the most loving and realistic depiction of Christmas morning since the invention of the film camera in the early 1880’s. The laughs come hard and dark, if you, like me, don’t mind gazing into the abyss to find something to chuckle about.
The characterizations are arch and the behavior garish, but the film weaves together a multitude of sad sack stories with surprising subtlety and deliberate pacing. Jokes punctuate moments of pain and let us laugh through the discomfort and unease, as we sit and shake our heads at the numbskulls on screen. The best characters, unfortunately, get the least screen time. Jayne Eastwood as Grandma had me howling with laughter, and Dylan Everett as young Teddy is amazing as the young filmmaker and straight man who watches his family fall apart and waxes sarcastic from behind the camera.
I think I can guess with some certainty that no one will ever suggest pairing Cooper’s Christmas with the likes of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street” as a delightful Christmas morning back to back. But if you like to cringe through the laughs, if you want to feel better about how screwed up your family is, or heck, even if you want to see Dave Foley’s ass, then you’re just going to have to watch “Cooper’s Christmas”. It’s all there.