Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
I do have one issue with David O. Russell's romantic comedy… I guess that's what this is… 'Silver Linings Playbook'.  So Pat Solitano Sr. (Robert De Niro) is a lifelong Eagle fan but he can't go the games because he got kicked out for fighting?  Is this even possible in Philadelphia?  I would think you'd get kicked out of an Eagle's game for being kind, gentle and compassionate.  Fighting is a requirement, isn't it?  Maybe things have changed in the new Lincoln Financial Field but I know in the old Vet it was every man for himself. 

Anyway, it's freedom day for the junior Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) as he is getting sprung from the looney bin by his mom Delores (Jacki Weaver), even though he still looks plenty crazy to me.  Apparently Pat walked in on his wife and some guy all in flagrante and stuff in the shower.  Mike beat the man near to death.  Now…and not that we're justifying Pat's actions, but… some dude is in your house, in your shower, doing biblically illegal things to your woman and you subsequently handle hand your business… this is against the law?  Color me outraged.  The fact of the matter is that Pat has always been a few eggs short of a dozen so something was bound to happen eventually, thus the subsequent plea agreement kept him out the hoosegow and got him some much needed help. 

So Pat's back home, clearly still insane from where we're sitting, desperately seeking the silver lining in every possible situation.  I think this is something his therapist has said.  One of the reasons we pretty sure Pat is still nuts is because his main focus seems to be reuniting with his wife, a relationship that couldn't have been all that healthy to begin with, and it's not helping Pat's situation that his old man isn't exactly what we would call a bedrock of sanity his own damn self.  Situations are escalating and it's looking like Pat might be heading right back to the crazy house. 
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Then, of course, he meets her.  Her is Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a much younger, very shapely and attractive woman of suspect moral value who is also crazy.  I'm not quite sure but I think Tiffany's sister Veronica (Julia Stiles) wanted Tiffany to meet Pat, and I'm imagining the theory being that crazy people should be together?  Even though Pat is prone to sudden bouts violence and ass kicking.  Again I don't know.    I'm pretty sure this is a scenario that can only happen in movies. 

Not to get all psychological on you but Tiffany's behavioral issues are directly related to a tragedy she has suffered and as such she does seem to be overcompensating a bit through this suspect moral behavior of hers, but regardless of that, Tiffany and Pat have been brought together by the forces of the universe… to dance.  It's complicated.   

How complicated?  Just know that a series of spectacular events merge together combining the dance, the Philadelphia Eagles, mental illness, and illegal bookmaking with the fate of a new Philly Cheesesteak joint in the balance.  Because another Philly Cheesesteak joint is exactly what the city of Philadelphia needs. 

Want to know one thing that's good about 'Silver Linings Playbook'?  Actually there are a few good things about this movie but one good thing is that Chris Tucker is in this movie.  I mean Chris Tucker hasn't made a movie without Jackie Chan in it in over fifteen years, and he was good in this in the limited time he was in this movie, and it's good to see the brother working again.  In fact you would have to look long and far to find a collection of fine performances as you're going to find in 'Silver Linings Playbook', probably none finer than Sir Robert De Niro.  Some people, not me mind you, but some people have accused Mr. De Niro of mailing it in and cashing checks in his late in life career, but here he gave very nuanced and subtle portrayal of the OCD inflicted Pat Sr.  

At its core 'Silver Lining Playbook' is a screwball comedy, even though it is more bittersweet than laugh out loud funny, but considering all the wild and wacky elements and nutty characters that are introduced to us in this film I wouldn't have been too terribly surprised if this just spiraled out of control, but if you've seen the previous film of director David O. Russell you know he's pretty good at managing stuff like this and keeping it moving, keeping it organized and keeping it amusing.  Most of this cohesion can definitely be attributed to the dynamic chemistry between Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, both of whom handled the delicate balance of creating characters, in the midst of their May-August relationship, who could've been abhorrent and difficult to watch stumble through life, but were nonetheless universally appealing.  It probably doesn't hurt that they are both beautiful.  Gotta love movies.

The question for me, however, would be 'Is 'Silver Linings Playbook' as good as I had heard?  Well… no, not really.  I mean it is still a Romantic Comedy, not to say that merely being a Romantic Comedy knocks it down a few points, but it does have the trappings and contrivances of a Romantic Comedy.  The way everything ultimately plays out is completely ridiculous… admittedly it is also pleasantly ridiculous… but still.  And if I'm not mistaken I think our nutjob lovebirds were cured at the end.  Through the power of love and dance.  I do realize we can't end the movie with these two swinging from light fixtures, but it did come off as a bit disingenuous is all I'm saying. 

All that being said I did enjoy 'Silver Linings Playbook' as it is damn near irresistible based on the strength of the performances given alone. 
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