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Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

What She said:


Don’t kid yourself, Silver Linings Playbook is no rom-com.  I think a lot of people who see this go in thinking that it’ll be a throwaway, Jennifer Aniston-style romantic comedy, but there’s actually not a whole lot of funny in this movie.  What you get instead is a drama with a hint of romance.

Silver Linings Playbook follows our protagonist, Pat (Bradley Cooper), who was recently released from a mandatory stay in a psychiatric facility.  He’s been locked away for months, but his mother has smoothed things over with the court to get him out and back home.  Some background on why he’s in a pscyh ward—he had a breakdown upon walking in on his wife cheating on him with another man and almost beat the other guy to death.  Apparently his problems go deeper than that, though.  He’s bi-polar with other tendencies, and some of the psych issues seem to come from his father.  So Pat is a complete mess.  He’s still obsessed with his ex-wife, and desperately in love with her.  He’s also now jobless and under careful supervision by his parents. 

One day, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister of his ex-wife’s friend, and wow, she may actually be crazier than he is.  She’s a young widow, her husband having served for the Philadelphia Police Department. Tiffany has also just recently lost her job, and has focused her attention on an upcoming dance competition.  She agrees to deliver a letter to Pat’s ex-wife in exchange for him acting as her partner in the competition.  And so, against his will but motivated by this deep need to reconcile with his wife, Pat begins dancing with Tiffany.  They’re both emotional wrecks, but through their collaboration they help each other and a definite bond begins to develop.

This is one of those movies where almost every character is messed up.  I think it’s to show us viewers that no one in this world has it all.  However, I’m still convinced there are a lucky few out there.  What happens when you get a bunch of crazy, drama-soaked individuals together is they become annoying.  I was concerned for a while that this would be the case with Silver Linings Playbook, a la The Family Stone.  There’s a real need for viewers to feel connected to at least one character, and if they’re all unlikable then the movie turns into a wash.  BUT, I began to come around to Pat and his anxieties, and even started to warm up to Tiffany, a little.  She’s sort of one of those lunatic chicks that never matured beyond the 8th grade.  But she does seem to genuinely care for Pat, so I guess that’s her redeeming characteristic. 

Robert De Niro plays Pat, Sr., and boy is he a handful.  He’s running books for money, is obsessed with the Eagles football team, and is in semi-denial about how best to treat Pat, Jr.’s issues.  He acknowledges often that there’s a problem, but believes that watching the Eagles is going to serve as a cure.  Pat, Sr. has his own issues, acting beyond just superstitious to the point of being somewhat OCD in his mannerisms.  Meanwhile, Pat’s mother, Delores (Jacki Weaver), continually keeps secrets and lies about the reality of things. 

But, while the characters aren’t all charmers here, the story is very interesting.  We wonder, will Pat get himself in even more trouble has he continues to pursue ex-wife Nikki?  You really want to see him have an awakening and move past Nikki, but it’s definitely a substantial struggle for him.  It’s also interesting to watch the budding romance between Pat and Tiffany.  They sort of passive-aggressively pursue each other, which is fitting considering the type of people they are.

The movie is supposed to be filled with Philly charm, if that’s what you want to call it.  And all of the actors do their best to be “extra-hard.”  I’m not sensing authentic Philly accents here, but the acting is certainly a strength of this film. I may not love the characters that they’re playing, but at least they’re doing a good job playing them.  In particular, both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence do a good job.

The film is a look into the world of troubled people who are struggling to recover somewhat normal lives.  It may not be entirely possible for them, but watching the adjustments they make and their relationships develop is certainly fascinating.  I thought for a while that I would be 50/50 on this movie, but I think that last 45 minutes really keyed up the stakes and made this a more solid film.

Thumbs up.

Silver Linings Playbook


What He said:


Right at the beginning of the movie, Pat (Bradley Cooper) is released from a mental institution after eight months of treatment for bi-polar disorder, amongst other things. His stay at the facility was mandatory as a part of a deal with the court for a crime which is revealed later in the movie. It unfolds kind of naturally to be honest. You don’t find out right away and I remember being interested enough to the point where I actually said, “What did he do?” out loud.

Some things you do know is that he’s married, estranged from his wife, and completely obsessed with reuniting with her. All he can talk about is getting back together with Nikki (Brea Bee). I know sometimes people throw around words when they don’t really apply, but Pat is truly obsessed with getting back together with his wife. It’s all he thinks about. He has turned himself into an avid runner  to lose weight for her, he reads all the book she assigned her students, and does just about anything he thinks will help; even though there’s really no indication she wants to see him.

Pat is placed under the care of his parents Pat Sr. (Robert Deniro) and Delores (Jacki Weaver). You start to learn where Pat gets some of his issues from, as it appears his father has some undiagnosed problems of his own. Pat Sr. is a huge Eagles fan and his dedication is more like an obsession. He also has to have things a certain way when watching the game, which seems to resemble OCD quite a bit. Pat Sr. has also recently resorted to bookmaking since he lost his job. His justification is that he is going to use the money to open up a restaurant, but if you ask me the character is a compulsive gambler and is likely always going to bet heavily regardless. I don’t think this dream he has of opening a restaurant is going to change him much at all, despite the movie wanting to tell me it would all work out. I was buying what they were selling with that part of the story.

Silver Linings Playbook

As a part of trying to reacclimatize himself to normal life, Pat goes to a dinner at his friend Ronnie’s house. Ronnie (John Ortiz) and his wife (Veronica) appear to still be on friendly terms with both Pat and Nikk, so of course Pat is constantly asking about her.

Also at the dinner is Veronica’s sister Tiffany. Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) has her own problems. She is a recent widow and seeks comfort in men. A lot of different men. She sees Pat as the latest opportunity to distract herself from the fact that she misses her husband. Pat – being obsessed with his getting back together with his wife – rejects her. This really motivates Tiffany. She doesn’t like being rejected, so she begins to follow Pat around. Plus, you can kind of tell she feels a connection to him, with the both of them having gone through some recent troubles. 

So they form this socially awkward friendship. They are brutally honest with one another. Sometimes that results in laughs, other times tears or yelling.

Ok, so here’s the thing. I did like this movie. I felt it had some really good performances, particularly from Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert Deniro. I thought they were legitimately good performances.  It is funny, dramatic, and an all-around solid movie. It reminded me of Parenthood in that sense, which I always liked. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and there are parts you can relate to even if you don’t have the same exact life experiences – or mental problems in this case – as the characters.

But there was just something about this movie that felt so forced at times.  The main characters were fine, but the supporting cast seemed like a bunch of caricatures. Everyone had something wrong with them. More people, more problems, more, more, more. It was a little much and really started to detract from the movie at a certain point.

I also feel the movie might have been overrated by some because the two main starts are popular right now. That’s not to say their performances were bad, but that I felt people automatically assumed they were because of who they are.

Rating: Thumbs half up.