Lazy Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook


Premise: Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a recently released patient from a mental institution, who is put into the custody of his elderly parents.  Now he lives his life chasing people from the past and meeting new ones who might help him more than he thinks.  Or if you’d like a completely out-of-context summary of the film based on the marketing: BRADLEY COOPER PLAYS A QUIRKY NUTJOB WHO RUNS AROUND WITH A GARBAGE BAG FOR A SHIRT!



-The film is hilarious.  And it’s funny in a smart, witty way that intelligent adults can actually appreciate.  That’s not to say that I don’t still like fart humor; but it has its place, and Silver Linings Playbook isn’t it.  I really enjoyed the Hemingway bit, and totally loved the brief comic exchange about iPods/iPod docks.  Ironically, one of the least apparent or important jokes in the film is the one about Pat wearing a garbage bag while he runs.  But it sure is quirky, huh?  Silver Linings Playbook may actually be the anti-quirky movie.  It takes aspects that a different film would shrug off as quirk, puts them in the foreground, and makes them not just a silly habit but more about who the character really is.  And that goes for just about every character.  But it’s still all pretty funny.

-It has emotion, as well.  My dark, charred heart actually fluttered a few times during the film.  It builds to a satisfying conclusion (maybe a little predictable), but does everything the best way possible.

-I cared about all the characters, and they cared about each other.  I even cared about Pat’s weird friend that was having marriage issues.  They make you care about him.  And seemingly cliché relationships like the one between Pat and his brother start off as a weird rivalry, but quickly reveals itself to be much more than that.  Everyone pretty much acts as a foil to Pat, but they have their own little personalities and stories that make them all equally as interesting.

-It sort of switches focus into a dance competition halfway through.  I know that probably sounds awful and/or random.  But I liked it.  It results in probably one of the better feel good movies in a while.  And what I liked even more about the ending was the old school romance charm it had to it.  Apart from the dialogue, it just felt like the kind of ending you’d see in a classic romance film from decades ago.  I don’t mind that at all.

-Bradley Cooper deserves some awards recognition for his role.  And Jennifer Lawrence holds her own as well.  The relationship was combative enough that it kept me interested throughout, but they had such great chemistry that I kind of get the best of both worlds.

-I’m always a bit skeptical when a handsome actor tries to play a troubled weirdo.  I know earlier in the year Bradley Cooper was playing the Elephant Man without any make-up in some theatrical production, and that made me laugh heartily.  So the fact that he’s playing a handsome weirdo in this maybe me question it, as well.  But then it’s revealed that Pat used to be something of a normal, married guy until he snapped and got placed in a mental institution.  So I was cool with it, I guess.  Because I mean, be honest, handsome people usually aren’t believable, quirky weirdos.  And when they are crazy they more often than not end up in Patrick Bateman from American Psycho territory.

-If you can overlook all the shitty family comedies like the Focker movies, Analyze This/That, New Years Eve, etc…  Silver Linings Playbook shows the world that an elderly Robert De Niro actually *can* still act.  And act awesomely.  As Pat’s father, who is equal parts loving and obsessive compulsive, De Niro finally deserves to be mentioned once again as a great actor.  I wonder if he did this movie for the paycheck like the others, and it just happened to be such good material that he couldn’t fail…?  Or if he actually tried for a change and this was the natural result…?

-Chris Tucker?  He’s back!  And he’s still funny!

-Great soundtrack.  I’d also like to add that it features two White Stripes songs, one of which is actually integral to the story.  That’s alright by me.

-The film uses DeSean Jackson’s one-yard-too-early touchdown celebration from a few NFL seasons ago in a crucial moment of the film as a serious metaphor for coming close to easy success but blowing it in the end.  I support any and all super-specific football references to be used as crucial metaphors in a film.



-Wasn’t a big fan of the tailgate scene.  Especially the part with the psychiatrist.  It seemed like a cheap laugh in a movie that was doing just fine being hilarious without the cheap laughs.  It was almost like that scene was from a different movie.  And that different movie was like an Adam Sandler movie…  Now, that scene was extremely important to the plot, so I don’t oppose the actual events that occurred.  But I just didn’t like the way it played out in relation to the rest of the film.
-Didn’t like the epilogue at all.  It was only two minutes long, but it felt completely unnecessary.  If the film ended on the 2nd to last scene (which was a good scene), and I was asked to imagine how the character’s lives would have carried on if they had continued to show more; I would have assumed they went on exactly like they did in the insignificant epilogue. So they really didn’t need to include it.  It would have been better to have walked away after the film’s ultimate climax, instead of diluting it with a scene that wasn’t really special at all.  Or was that the point, that our lives aren’t supposed to be special?  And the normalcy is actually the best part?  Well, I guess that makes sense too…  I still would have cut out the epilogue.
Final Thoughts:  There’s a lot to like about this movie, and I really dug the whole thing.  Sometimes a simple concept with great execution can result in something special.  I would recommend this film to people who like smart comedies, with a touch of romance, and a hefty dose of mental health issues and family drama.  It’s kind of a brilliant mix of all those things.  When I thought about what I didn’t like about Silver Linings Playbook, I really only came up with those two scenes in the cons section.  Who knows how long it will be in limited release, so catch it while you can!
9 out of 10

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