Dee Discusses: Silver Linings Playbook

Posted: February 20, 2013 by Dee in Dee, General Media, Movies, Reviews
Tags: , , ,

It’s strange reviewing this movie. I’m not usually someone who falls for overhype; if everyone is telling me a movie is very good and it’s nominated for a bunch of awards, I still go in with a grain of salt. Because some stories aren’t for everyone. I’m not sure what I expected from Silver Linings Playbook, but I came out feeling baffled about why it’s gotten so much critical acclaim. Is it because it has some good actors in it with good performances? Does Hollywood just love the idea of a mentally unstable romcom? I can see this being a word of mouth film that people like, but nominated for Best Picture and all the best acting awards? Really? I don’t know. I came out with a sincere ‘meh’ feeling. And I don’t do that because I like to criticize popular movies, quite the contrary. I’m a firm believer more popular movies should get better attention, such as the Avengers, despite not being Oscar bait. I also really love several of the movies up for Big Picture. Argo, man that was a great movie. Lincoln. Les Mis. Life of Pi. I haven’t seen all of the others, but I don’t doubt why they’re on there. This one does baffle me a bit. It’s not that it’s a bad movie … well I’ll get to that later. Spoilers below!

Silver Linings Playbook is about Pat (Bradley Cooper), a man diagnosed with bipolar after he nearly killed his wife’s lover when he found them together. He was sent to a mental hospital for eight months, and his mother comes to get him at the end. The doctors say he’s not ready to leave, but his mother is insistent he’s ready. He tries to get his friend Danny (Chris Tucker) out, and Danny does show up several times in the movie before being dragged back since he wasn’t supposed to leave. Legal disputes, although this is played for laughs and I’m not sure I find it funny, considering he doesn’t present as an extremely stable person. Pat’s father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) is out of work and bookmarks for baseball games while he dreams of opening up a restaurant. He’s also highly OCD and obsessed with the idea that his team the Philadelphia Eagles do better when his son is there with him. Pat is obsessed himself with finding his estranged wife Nikki. He swears up and down that they belong together and ignores his restraining order, crossing the line several times in an effort to see her. He goes through a manic episode searching for their wedding tape and accidentally hurts his mother, leading to a fight with his father and the police being called.

Pat is invited over to his best friend Ronnie’s house, and it’s there he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), Ronnie’s sister-in-law. She is a widow who lost her job since she reacted to her grief by having sex with most of the staff. She freely accepts her rather dysfunctional lifestyle and she challenges Pat, running on the same route as him so they can hang out more. She agrees to bring a letter to Nikki if he helps her get into a dance competition. They train for it and grow closer as friends, and when it looks like he’s going to quit, Tiffany gives him a letter Nikki wrote. Except anyone with half a brain knows that Tiffany did it instead. Later on when he bails on their lesson to go to a game with his brother, which leads to a fist fight, she has a screaming match with his father. She proves that Pat was with her for nearly all of the good luck Eagles games, so his OCD father should actually be thanking her. It’s revealed there that Pat’s mother encouraged her to go on his run and he realizes Tiffany wrote the letter. Instead of losing his shit at her for lying about everything, he stays quiet. They tell him that Nikki will be at the dance. His father makes one major bet with his friend/rival, if the Eagles win and Tiffany and Pat get a score of 5 on their dancing, he gives Pat Sr. a lot of money. Enough money to make his business.

I think it’s pretty obvious where this is headed. It’s because this is as formulaic as any other romcom. His father wins, he’s over his issues with Nikki magically, and he and Tiffany are in love happily ever after. The ‘twist’ I guess is that these are two dysfunctional people instead of just being lovably quirky. I don’t know,  I think the movie is trying to portray everyone in this as lovably dysfunctional, but I hated most of them. I’ll say that I think the acting was very strong. I think how they handled the bi-polar disorder in the beginning of the movie was well done, and if they continued in that path without changing it to suit their storybook ending, it would’ve been a lot better. He was obsessed with Nikki for the past year, hell up until weeks before he gets the letter, and he’s just going to go ‘oh well I love you now Tiffany’? She was manipulating him using his ex wife to get what she wanted. That’s not a sign of love. That was selfishness. If they were consistent with his character, he wouldn’t just suddenly be cured of his obsession with Nikki. It was fine if he started loving Tiffany and they had a real connection, but it felt forced. I wasn’t really rooting for them. I think those last few minutes of seeing them happy together was going to very soon explode into deep dissatisfaction, because the way they were written in the movie they were bound to have real problems as a couple. I just felt like in some ways this movie was trying to present itself as a serious situation and handle certain issues, while still giving Hollywood what it wanted, and that didn’t work for me. It felt insincere in the end.

This is an example I think of personal taste. What didn’t work for me clearly worked for a lot of other people. I think I was inclined not to like it because I have personal experience with bi-polar disorder, and I felt in the beginning of the movie it was handled well but scattered off toward the end. I guess I can’t blame them for wanting a happy ending for these two characters. In general the world is more full of dysfunctional people than perfect romcom material, so this was a little more down to earth, and I get that. It’s hard for me to like something when I dislike the characters and wish they’d shut up instead of get together. So there’s the taste coming in. However, the acting was superb. I think all the acting nominations are deserved, they were very believable despite the parts I found unbelievable, and I think the actors gave as much as they could do the role. The movie itself is sort of a B-/C+, in my opinion. I feel like maybe it’s getting this attention because of the actors and because it’s different from the typical romcom. It’s darker.  But Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 500 Days of Summer were different and unique and they didn’t get nearly as much attention. Something I will still resent to this day. So. End of the day: not my thing. I didn’t find it funny or charming and I wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. Still, Silver Linings Playbook resonated with a lot of people, so it must have worked in general. I like the actors and I’m happy they’re doing well. I’ll just happily never see it again and call it a day.

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