Skip to main content

Review: It's Not Always Sunny (Silver Linings Playbook)


Of all the franchises in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles have the most impassioned fanbase. Wins move the entire city, a loss, particularly at Dallas, could ruin an entire Sunday. Eagles fans' well-being depend on a winning season. The Solitanos are such a family.

Pal Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has no control over the things that come out of his mouth. Everyone is guilty of having their mental filter go on the fritz, but Pat's is permanently stuck on off. He's been working on self-improvement at the clinic he was court-appointed to following a violent conflict between himself, his wife and her lover. His mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) has decided that eight months is long enough and brings Pat back home.

Pat has a game-plan toward getting his life back in order: get in shape, get his old job and get his wife back. Nikki has since moved on and as a gesture of good faith, filed a restraining order against him. Despite what his friends tell him, he is quite happy in his delusions.

In an effort to get Pat readjusted, his buddy invites him to dinner with his wife and her sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).

From their first meeting Tiffany gets Pat, when most people in a room step back from him, she steps forward. Pat is hesitant to ingratiate himself with Tiffany, she's loose with her body and Pat needs to maintain with Nikki that he is above such behavior. Oblivious to Pat, Tiffany has her own problems. Since her husband's death she has been an inconsolable mess, any contact she can get, she takes.

While it is immediately clear to the audience that Tiffany and Pat are kindred spirits, he needs convincing. Tiffany slyly offers a deal: be her dance partner and she will pass along his letters to Nikki, in an effort to convince her to get back together.

With Pat spending so much time at Tiffany's, Pat Sr. (Robert DeNiro, on a streak after Being Flynn) just wants his namesake to sit alongside him Sunday afternoon and take in a game with his old man. Each passing week, Pat Sr. puts a little more money on each game, with his son as his good luck charm, he can't go wrong.

Bradley Cooper is one of those familiar faces recognized from parts as the sidekick and the aggressive boyfriend, but he never really broke out. With his performance as the at times lucid and at others raging Pat, Cooper has announced that he has taken that step into the next tier of leading men.

David O. Russell has a knack for capturing dysfunctional familial units. His most recent effort, The Fighter, garnered him an Academy Award nod for the first time, but, despite the quirk of brothers Micky and Dicky, the the film was ultimately viewed as a workman effort. Silver Linings however comes right out of the auteur's wheelhouse. Russell adapted and directed the film, adding alterations to the story that ultimately result in a tighter, better film.

The popular knock against Silver Linings Playbook is that the film lacks awareness when it comes to mental illness. That conclusion obfuscates the trying moments that Pat Sr. and Dolores combat with after he comes home from the hospital. Russell's film is more or less about capturing the daily highs and lows of Pat and Tiffany's issues. Not every living moment for a person with an illness is wrenched in agony.

Silver Linings destigmatizes disorders in a way that most films just don't care to. Like the Solitano's home, it invites you in.

***1/2 out of ****

Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…