Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook

Director: David O. Russell

Writers: David O. Russell, Matthew Quick

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, Paul Herman, Dash Mihok, Matthew Russell, Cheryl Williams, Brea Bee, Patrick McDade

Synopsis: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity

Excelsior!

In today's modern world of cinema, romantic comedies have often become so bogged down with mediocre movies that it's hard to take most of them seriously. Granted, there are a few diamonds in the rough like "500 Days of Summer" and etc. Sadly though, for every "500 Days of Summer", there's always a million of romantic comedies in ilk of movies such as "Just Friends" and "No Strings Attached."

To make matters worse, most romantic comedies tend to stick to the same basic formula that offers almost little to no surprise for it's audience. You always have the basic premise of boy meets girl. A bunch of feel good moments happen; along with cliched over the top moments and speeches. You can see the ending coming from over a mile away; unless you've never seen a movie in your life. Oh, lets not forget about the cheesiness factor that gets involved, to make the viewer get a few cheap laughs in between.

However, we accept these tired old rehashed cliches, and plot devices, because most audiences just want pure escapism from a romantic comedy. Nobody really expects great stories anymore when it comes to romantic comedies these days. I sure as hell don't.

No, all I expect is that if the film follows the same damn formula that a million other romantic comedies rehash, then all I ask is that the movie builds up a strong chemistry between the two actors; hence making it a bit more believable, so I won't feel like the only way I can buy the love story is to be a complete imbecile (i.e. "Just Friends"). Also, it doesn't hurt to have likable supporting characters as well (e.i. "She's Out of Your League").

Luckily, "Silver Linings Playbook" is such a film that does both these things. Is it cliched and a bit cheesy? Absolutely, it wouldn't be a romantic comedy if it didn't have those things. Is it another rehashed love story that audiences have seen over a million times before? Definitely. Is the story completely predictable to where you can tell exactly what's going to happen throughout the movie? You bet.

However, there's more to the movie than that. Before we delve even further about this film, lets go over the story for a minute. Based on a novel by Matthew Quick. A man named Pat (Bradley Cooper) gets thrown into a mental hospital, after beating up a guy in his own house. The guy that Pat caught was having an affair with his wife, Nikki. Fast forward eight months later, Pat is out of the hospital to try to restart his life over again; while trying to win back his wife, Nikki.

Sadly, the only problem is that Nikki was so kind as to issue a restraining order against Pat, in fear of his anger problems. But hey, why should something so trivial as a simple restraining order stop Pat from pursuing the girl he loves? Hell, a little jail time won't hurt anyone, as that shouldn't stand in the way of true love, right? In fact, I'm sure all my readers would do the exact same thing if they were in Pat's shoes. By the way, I'm being very sarcastic for those readers that can't tell.

Anyways, Pat has to go to mandatory therapy, and he's living back with his parents again. Pat tries to get his life together, as he suffers from slight bi-polar tendencies. In one scene for example, Pat wakes up his parents, in the middle of the night, to rant about a book written by Ernest Hemingway that didn't quite end the way he wanted it too. Needless to say, stunts like this don't exactly bode well with his parents.

To make a long story short, Pat inevitably meets another tortured soul named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who seems quite smitten by him. Tiffany is a girl that lost her husband, due to a tragic incident. Afterwards, she fell into a deep state of depression, where she slept with just about anyone that would show even the slightest hint of interest in her.

Upon meeting Pat, she immediately throws herself at him in her own blunt way. She even offers to sleep with him the first night they meet if it meant for him to want to be her friend. However, he turns her down because he's still in love with his wife, who seems to show zero interest in getting back with him. And, that's all you need to know about the story without giving too much away.

But then again, if you've seen a million romantic comedies before, then you pretty much know how this movie is going to end already. Therefore, I doubt even if I did tell readers the rest of the plot that it would really ruin anything, but for the sake of argument, I'll leave it at that.

Although I've only seen one other film by David O. Russell, I have to say I was reasonably impressed by this film. Sure, it was another typical cliched romantic comedy, but I liked how developed the characters were, and how each character had a purpose to the story. It was also nice to see how well "Silver Linings Playbook" took the time, to develop the relationships between the characters; which is kind of a rarity in this genre.

Granted, the movie still can get a bit cheesy at times, but it's still a lot of fun to watch. Chris Tucker isn't as distracting as many might think; given that he's cast to play the best friend/comic relief, in this film. And with his loud personality, it would've been very easy for his character to come off as irritably annoying, but he was actually very funny in this.

As for Robert De Niro, I thought he played his part very well. In fact, I'd dare even say this is arguably one of his best performances ever. Same can be said with Jacki Weaver, as she does a great job playing the sympathetic mother figure that loves her son unconditionally; regardless of his actions.

As for the stars of the movie, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, I thought they both played their parts very well. Not only did they both have a lot of great onscreen chemistry together, but each managed to make their characters likable, yet sympathetic, throughout the movie.

Overall, "Silver Linings Playbook" isn't going to rewrite the way how romantic comedies are done, but it does play on the rehashed formula to perfection. Although I'd have to say I still think David's last movie, "The Fighter" was arguably better, "Silver Linings Playbook" wasn't half bad. In fact, this is arguably one of the best romantic comedies that I've seen in a while, at a rating of three and a half out of four. It's definitely worth seeing in theaters, and if you want to see a perfect date film for Valentine's Day, then "Silver Linings Playbook" is worth a look.

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