You would think I couldn't like a romantic comedy that celebrates the Philadelphia Eagles and has dancing. That's a bad combination for me. I grew up in the Washington D.C. area and spent over half my life in the area watching and rooting for the Redskins through the 1980's and on winning three super bowls with great players like Gary Clark, Monte Coleman, Art Monk, Darrell Green, Charles Mann, Brian Mitchell, Mark Rypien and Ricky Sanders. I along with our family grew up hating the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants. It's ingrained on our brains, and to be honest they suck. Any way it makes it harder for me to enjoy films that revolve around these teams, and then the romantic comedy factor. I'm not a big fan of the genre. Sure I've enjoyed some like Wimbledon, The Princess Bride, Pretty Woman and Sweet Home Alabama, but in general the genre sucks. I know the films are primarily made for women, but in most there is no chemistry between the leads, which makes the romance unbelievable. There is also usually the lack of character growth or predictable characters and in general the predictability of the genre. You know how it's going to end so the journey is the most important thing and if it isn't believable or the characters aren't likeable, compelling or you have a reason to root for the film fails. You would think with these two things going against Silver Linings that I wouldn't like it, but I did. I truly loved the Silver Linings Playbook.
First off of course the film is predictable. You know how it's most likely going to end from the trailer, but it's the journey getting there is what truly makes this film so good. The film is adapted from novel with the same name and by the author Matthew Quick. The story follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) who's in a mental health institution in Baltimore after he loses everything in his life. His wife Nikki cheats on him with a fellow cheater from his school and he nearly beats the man to death. Pat loses his job, home, has a restraining order taken out by his wife, finds out that he is bipolar and ends up in a mental institution. The emotionally unstable Pat is taken out by his mother Dolores Solitano (Jacki Weaver) and brought home to Philadelphia where he'll live with his die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan and bookie Pat Solitano Sr. (Robert De Niro). Arriving home Pat stops taking his pills and is determined to better his life, because he believes that if he does so Nikki will take him back even though his family and friends doubt that will happen. Hopping to get in contact with Nikki he goes to dinner with his friends Ronnie (John Ortiz) and Veronica (Julia Stiles) home where he meets Veronica's sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who recently lost her husband and had a break down as well going into deep depression. Almost instantly the two form a connection though Pat doesn't want to see it. The two scarred and emotionally unstable characters deal with their deep issues, their families as they form a bond helping each other and find a silver lining in their screwed up lives. I think that's all I'll talk about plot wise. As for the two main characters their believable and genuine and I had empathy and understood some of what they are going through. About twelve years ago I was put in a mental hospital for a short period of time and suffered from deep depression resulting in me taking pills. In fact I still suffer from occasional depression that that I take a pills for along with pills for blood pressure and I know what they can do to you and finding a silver lining in my at the time in my screwed up life. It can be anything or anyone like finding a friend or just dancing like Pat and Veronica do in the film as long as you find something that gives you hope. The characters are believable and real chemistry and as the film goes on you become invested in these characters and truly root from them to get together. The story and film even brought some tears to my eyes and I'm guy, and that rarely happens especially in romantic comedies, but this film is moving. Now as for the comedy is more muted and not over the top nor is it forced. It's believable and you actually think the characters would say what they do and it really works as I wouldn't even call it a comedy. I think it has more in common with a romantic drama that has humorous moments.
The small role Chris Tucker has in the film as Danny a friend of Pat's from the mental institution is Tucker's best acting performance to date. Sure he's not a great actor mainly doing comedy, but here he's not comedic side kick and actually shows more of his dramatic acting ability with his toned down comedy. Robert De Niro hasn't been at the top of his game over the last decade with performances in Killer Elite, Hide and Seek, Righteous Kill and Godsend, but he is still a good and capable actor. Is Pat Sr. the best character he's played no or is the character a little lacking yes, but De Niro brings the character to life and the emotional weight as Pat Sr. tries to connect to his son that he hasn't always been there for. John Ortiz does a good job as Ronnie, Pats good friend who tries to help Pat even though he's slowly suffocating in his own life. Obviously the film belongs to Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. I'm not the biggest fan of Bradley Cooper or his acting ability. The only film I truly liked him in was Limitless. He showed off his acting ability which he puts on display in Silver Linings. He brings emotional depth to Pat and his struggles with accepting his Bipolar, deals with family issues and falls in love with Tiffany. For me Jennifer Lawrence is the star. I first noticed Jennifer, and her beauty in her supporting role in X-Men: First Class. I fell in love with her and her acting ability after seeing the Winter's Bone and The Hunger Games showing she could hold a film basically all by herself. She embodies Tiffany and truly brings the character to life showing of her acting range and ability. Jennifer should be nominator for an Oscar for her roles in The Hunger Games and Silver Linings. To be honest I think she should be nominated twice though that is by love and bias for the young actress. The only actress and character who I thought didn't work or was missed cast was Julia Stiles as Veronica. Julia just didn't look like she was emotionally there throughout her scenes in the film. Thank fully she was a sub-supporting actress and had only a limited number of scenes that didn't affect the film.
I sure did love the film Three Kings. It's a great and underrated war film about post war Iraq after the first Gulf War with a really good story and good performances by George Clooney, Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg. Until I saw Silver Linings Playbook, Three Kings was my favorite David O. Russell film. Though to be honest it's the only film of his I've seen. No I still haven't seen The Fighter and don't know when I will. In Silver Linings he again shows his ability as a writer and director bringing together the moving story and actors to make one of the best films of the year and the best romantic comedy I've seen. I'm not a big fan of Danny Elfman who performed the score with many of his scores sounding the same never bringing live to the films he does scores for, but he does a good job with the different moods and tones of the film helping to bring to the film to life.
I survived a genre I don't really like and film that surrounds itself with a team I hate and came out loving the film. Silver Lining is a nearly perfect film with great chemistry between the lead characters and actors with a believable story, great directing, music and it's only small flaw is with a few of its supporting cast. I know some people may have a different opinion and may not like it as much as I do, but in my opinion Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best films of the year and the best romantic comedy I've ever seen. The film deserves all the Oscar praise it's been getting and I hope it gets at very least nominations for best director, actor and actress. I loved the film and highly recommend it.