Wednesday, January 9, 2013

“Silver Linings Playbook” – An insane romantic comedy.

Did you know that, between the two of them, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper starred in seven movies in 2012? Yeah, these two were busy, and for about two seconds I wondered who had the better year, until my brain stopped farting and I remembered that Lawrence did The Hunger Games, which grossed $686 million. Besides that and Silver Linings Playbook, she did House at the End of the Street, which turned a good profit ($33 million), and Devil You Know, which I can find no evidence was ever actually released, even though it’s listed in every 2012 movie list I could find. There isn’t even a wiki page for it and there’s a wiki page for everything. On the other hand, Cooper added Hit and Run (a very good movie), The Words (a very not-good movie), and The Place Beyond the Pines, a movie that was released at the Toronto film festival, but won’t see a theater until the end of March. All of Cooper’s movies made money, but all of them were also essentially indie movies, Silver Linings Playbook included. So, even if Cooper wins an Oscar, he can’t possibly have had as good a year as Lawrence.

It’s safe to say that they both had decent years and they collided in Silver Linings Playbook. I was a little leery going into this movie because it was one of the late-year films that was getting absurd amounts of Oscar buzz. The most ridiculous review I saw was from a critic calling it the best sports movie in years. First of all, Moneyball is the best sports movie in years. Second of all, this movie is a sports movie like The Matrix is a computer movie. The fact that the critic was from Philadelphia explains how someone could make such a stupid comment (and that’s not an insult to Philadelphia fans, just that guy).

The film is actually about two people overcoming broken marriages and coming to terms with their mental problems. Pat (Cooper) is released from a mental institution after serving time for beating his ex-wife’s (Nikki) lover nearly to death. Pat believes he can rehabilitate himself, without the use of medications to control his bipolar disorder, in order to win back Nikki. His father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) runs a bookmaking business, primarily taking bets on the Philadelphia Eagles, in order to earn enough money to open a restaurant. Pat Sr. is extremely superstitious and believes Pat is good luck. Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence) while having dinner with a friend and learns that Tiffany’s husband recently died. Tiffany is dealing with the loss and we soon learn how screwed up she is, as well. After a while, they make a deal to help each other out. Tiffany agrees to deliver a letter to Nikki in exchange for Pat entering a dance competition with her; Pat believing the dancing will be a good way to prove to Nikki how he’s changed.

That’s the short of the movie and you’ll notice that sports barely played into it at all. In fact, it’s only used as plot device at the climax of the film. The reason why this movie is so great is because it breaks from the traditional romantic-comedy formula by making the couple overcome their issues before anything else can happen between them. It’s a whole different kind of angst that makes the movie feel fresh and is a nice departure from the norm. Not to mention Cooper and Lawrence put out fantastic performances, which is what really makes the movie.

If there’s one thing that’s a little odd, but definitely not a flaw and a thing that only guys will notice, is that, in this movie, the Eagles win a lot of their games. Knowing that the Eagles have kind of sucked for the last couple of years, I found myself wondering what year this movie was supposed to be taking place. As it turns out, the year is 2008 and every guy out there can breathe a sigh of relief.

Rating: Don’t ask for any of your money back – that would be crazy.

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