Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Lings Playbook tells an ultimately orthodox story in such an unorthodox manner.

It’s a rom dramedy! It’s a sports movie! It’s about anger management! It’s a floor wax! It’s a dessert topping!

I read all sorts of things about the new movie Silver Linings Playbook (except those last two, which are from an old Saturday Night Live skit). Still, I didn’t get much of a clear sense of the film beforehand, except who starred in it.

The Wife and I went to see the movie at the Spectrum 8 in Albany, our favorite cinematic haunt, Saturday past. Pat, Jr. (Bradley Cooper, who I had previously seen in absolutely nothing; never caught The Hangover movies) is getting out of a mental institution, after eight and a half months, following a violent incident. He moves back in with his parents (Jacki Weaver, previously nominated for Animal Kingdom; I hadn’t seen her in anything; and Robert DiNiro – HAVE seen him a few times, most recently in New Year’s Eve on TV). Pat wants to woo back his estranged wife, which is complicated by a restraining order.

He seems to have found an ally in his endeavor the friend of a friend (Jennifer Lawrence, who I didn’t see in Hunger Games or anything else) who has issues of her own.

The Wife and I liked the film, though it traveled from this character study – Pat dealing with a Stevie Wonder song that triggers untoward behavior – to an almost conventional film about winning the big game, of a sort.

Sidebar: we spent much of the conversation on the way home talking about what is “crazy” in this society and what is not. Pat Jr. may have been a bit disconnected from reality. But was it much worse than Pat Sr. being banned from the Philadelphia Eagles’ stadium, or his various superstitions concerning sports?

I think it’s getting so many positive reviews and so many Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, four acting categories, screenplay, plus) because it tells an ultimately orthodox story in such an unorthodox manner. Cooper is better than expected, and Lawrence has more range. Weaver and DeNiro may have gotten their nominations in no small part for one scene, which I won’t describe except that the Led Zeppelin song What Is And What Should Never Be was playing.

I liked the film, but I was surprised by the change in tone. Still, I think it is that turn that made it work for me. Yet, I’m not sure yet whether it was Best Picture material; I’ll have to see some more movies this winter.