Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

silver-linings-playbook

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz

Rated R for language, some sexual content/nudity, Running time 122 minutes, Comedy/Drama

Compare to: Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Our Idiot Brother (2011)

It’s always fun to see a Drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Finding a film that deals with such serious issues as mental illness, infidelity, family dysfunction and football, it’s nice for them to be dealt with seriously while allowing you to laugh at the same time. All without the general tone of cynicism that usually accompanies movies like this.

Just released from a Baltimore mental hospital, Pat Solitano plans on getting his life in order. His wife may have left him sure, after he nearly beat another man to death but things are going to change for him. He’s got a plan. And that plan is to get his wife back. To do that, he gets the help of a new friend, Tiffany. She’s got problems too, but it’s okay. He can do this. Along the way, everybody else in Pat’s life is also there to help out, even if they carrying just as many emotional baggage. It’s okay, he’s got a plan.

From the choppy camerawork to the range of emotions in a single scene, Silver Linings hits the nail on the head with just about every scene. As much as I’ve criticized Robert De Niro over the past decade, who seems to be intent on trying to destroy his earlier career with so much contemporary dreck, be it Comedy or Drama, Silver Linings sets any wrongs right again. I’m not saying De Niro could ruin his career, he’s just not as picky these days. In any case, his role of the father, Pat Sr. is hilarious and real at the same time. His love for his Bipolar son is only match by his annoyance toward him, as well as his strange superstitions for the beloved Philadelphia Eagles.

I hate leaving out any of the cast here either because they’re all great. Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Tiffany is much like Cooper’s performance as Pat; hilarious and sad simultaneously. It’s as though you’re meant to choose how you feel toward them rather than being told. Certain scenes were hilarious to me, yet I got the impression I was disturbing other audience members. Chris Tucker’s role as Pat’s best friend and fellow patient at the hospital who regularly escapes, lies as to what he’s really doing, and routinely brought back are scenes that are welcomed anytime they arrive. Nice to see him in something that isn’t Rush Hour. Now where’s Fifth Element 2: The Adventures of Ruby Rhod?

Many scenes that begin normal enough slowly progress to let you understand that even “normal” people around Pat have all got their own issues, making him seem a little more normal. John Ortiz’s quiet ramblings on his ways of dealing with stress from married life are unexpected and humorous, giving us the impression his head may explode at any time from all his repression.

The soundtrack is great as well. Music scored by the masterful Danny Elfman is as catchy as the movie itself if while the tracks by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan featuring Johnny Cash are placed perfectly in each they accompany. The same can’t be said for every film, many directors seeming to think if you play the song you wanted, there doesn’t need to be a flow for that scene but rather that the song alone just creates it. Not so, Russell seems to get it.

It seems to be getting more and more common for movies similar in tone to Silver Linings to have a “I’m fine just the way I am” message to pass off to viewers. “You’re great, don’t make any changes.” And that might be the part of Silver Linings. While Little Miss Sunshine had the aforementioned attitude which to me approves of laziness and allowance of insecurities, director David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter) seems to send more of a message telling us to acknowledge our screw-ups and move forward. You’re not fine the way you are, and working out a plan to better yourself is a fine idea.

Great acting, movement, upbeat characters in a downbeat story. We’re usually given the opposite in films like this: depressed characters in a story told with a light mood, giving the story a cynical tone. Flipping the cliche, Russell gives us something to make us laugh as well as learn from.

Grade: A-

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