Within the first minutes of the film my wife leaned over and said, “I already love this movie.” I concurred.
Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t bother with reinventing the wheel, letting familiar plot points playing themselves out, but with director David O. Russell keeping his hot hand after last year’s The Fighter and really strong performances, it’s an incredibly rewarding movie-going experience.
After spending 8 months at a Baltimore psychiatric mental facility for an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is taken out against doctor recommendations and moves in with his mother Dolores (Animal Kingdom’s Jacki Weaver) and Philadelphia Eagle-obsessed father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro).
Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), whose cop husband has passed away recently, and her depression has left her very promiscuous. The two spend time together as Pat believes Tiffany can get him and his wife back together, but Tiffany only agrees if he’ll practice and enter a dance competition with her (like I said, nothing you can’t predict).
As with Spanking the Monkey, Flirting with Disaster, and The Fighter, Russell continues doing what he knows best with quirky family dramedies. Playbook is effortlessly comic while at the same time not belittling of mental illness.
This is the role Bradley Cooper needed as it’ll let the world know he’s more than just the guy from The Hangover. Cooper’s Pat is an intense man bent on staying positive and out of trouble so he can win his wife back even though he was put away for beating her lover into the emergency room. Cooper also plays Pat sincerely, a man who really wants to better himself, hilarious at the right points and tragic all the same.
It’s a wonderful thing to know without an absolute doubt that a young starlet will be around for the long term. Jennifer Lawrence is only 23, but she plays like an old soul and adds a believable depth that’s rare for actresses even 20 years older than her.
The cast is also blessed with Robert De Niro, a name I haven’t been praising a lot lately. You can see from Pat Sr.’s OCD where Pat Jr. gets plenty of his issues. De Niro’s Pat, who is no longer allowed at Eagles games for too much fighting, uses extreme love for his home team to bond with his prodigal son. There’s a scene with him and Lawrence, where she explains that the Eagles do better when his son is with her, that will go down in the lexicon of classic De Niro moments.
Little bit. Little bit.
Lastly, Chris Tucker, who hasn’t been in a film besides the Rush Hour franchise since 1997, is also great as Pat’s good ward-mate friend; he’s his usual busy body self, but there’s a sweetness that lightens the screen every time he’s on.
Director Russell has never had you feel so good leaving the theater and it will be a sure-fire Oscar contender.
Take a Drink: every time anyone says Excelsior.
Take a Drink: whenever Pat goes for a run
Down a Shot: every time “My Cherie Amor” plays.