After his “serious “homerun hit, “The Fighter,” filmmaker David O. Russell is back in the quirky comedy mode. But, “Silver Linings Playbook” may owe more to “Little Miss Sunshine” than his own “Flirting With Disaster.”
Like “Sunshine,” “Silver Linings” opens with a main character being taken home from a mental institution. Both movies end at a talent competition, with unbeatable odds. In between, the films show the zaniness of wildly dysfunctional families. And, both are hilarious and uplifting.
Based on a novel by Matthew Quick, “Silver Linings” focuses on the unlikely love story of Pat, Jr., (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Unlikely because their manias make them as mismatched as nitroglycerine and dynamite… the combination means combustion. Of course, it also makes for great acting entertainment, which Russell manages like a seasoned ringmaster.
Determined to reinvent his life, Pat embarks on a rigorous regimen of reading and running. When he runs, he wears a plastic garbage bag (to sweat off calories). When he reads, he reads, “A Farewell to Arms.” Upon completion, he hurls the Hemingway classic through a glass window. He’s upset that the tragic finale is upsetting his new “silver linings” positive attitude. During a late night rant in the bedroom of his awakened parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), their son demands that Ernest Hemingway apologize to him. Pat Sr., says, “Have Ernest Hemingway apologize to me, too.”
At the top of Pat Jr.’s goal list is reconciliation with wife Nikki (Brea Bee), who has a restraining order against him. While jogging, he becomes friendly with Tiffany, who knows Nikki. She may be willing to break the law and give Nikki a letter from him, on one condition…that he enters a dance contest with her.
While Pat Jr. is bipolar, Tiffany is on a downward spiral after the death of her cop husband, having lost her job because of a sex spree with everyone in the office. The dance rehearsals seem to ease their anxiety. Also, there’s a good chance they’re falling in love.
Still, it’s a long road to the contest climax, with many mixed messages and road bumps along the way. At times, the story stumbles into chaotic wheel spinning, coagulating into a sticky sweetness in the end. But, these wackos will warm your heart.
If you’re looking for a movie about crazy love, “Silver Linings Playbook” is for you.