When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.
5 Things You Need to Know About…
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
1. Silver Linings Playbook, although benefiting from some “once a decade” performances from some supporting actors (more on this later), shines because of its two brightest stars. Bradley Cooper (a long-time favorite since his early 2000s Alias days as Will Tippin) and Jennifer Lawrence (a revelatory acting performance after already having a breakout 2012) exude old-fashioned silver screen charisma. Their scenes together sparkle with an undeniable dynamism and energy that at worst is the most memorable scene presentation in an MFA acting class and at best could win them both Academy Award nominations (this a likelihood for Mr. Cooper and a near certainty for Ms. Lawrence after their Golden Globe nominations).
2. Silver Linings Playbook has great bench support. Robert De Niro, as Bradley Cooper’s sports gambler, Philadelphia Eagles die-hard fan dad, gives his best performance in recent memory and maybe his best of the 21st century (and there have been some seriously bad ones: See Killer Elite or Righteous Kill). This finally felt like a movie where Sir Bobby cared more about the movie (in content, as exemplified through nuanced acting and general effort) than the paycheck. Jacki Weaver is a delight as Bradley Cooper’s devoted but enabler of a mom. In case you missed them and the budding promise that was, Chris Tucker (I am surprisingly happy to say, welcome back!) and Julia Stiles steal scenes (albeit in roles written a little bit too much as caricatures).
3. If you love American football, you will connect with and find much of Silver Linings Playbook quite enjoyable, but may find the football part’s execution a bit unrealistic and inauthentic. If you don’t love American football and share a home, life, or family with someone who does, you may not get the football fandom (and sports betting for that matter) parts of Silver Linings Playbook (of which there are many), but you will think it was completely authentic and realistic (As a sports fan, some of the “football talk” read as exposition heavy and fake).
4. Unfortunately, Silver Linings Playbook has some tough, late game plotting distractions in the final half hour that seem inconsistent with the rest of the honest, humorous, and emotionally engrossing movie that you have just invested the first ninety minutes in. There are several such plot struggles, but none are more irksome than when the trusted psychiatrist of Indian descent seems to take “not-on-call” to mean “absolved of any human responsibility.” Thankfully, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence fill their screen time with an abundance of audience directed good will.
5. Silver Linings Playbook is an engaging, emotionally provocative, and often satisfying movie that despite some troublesome, unrealistic, and (perhaps) sloppy late movie plot points, leaves a successful game plan for combining talented, hungry actors with a screenplay and characters that warrant our attention.
David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company. His weekly X Factor column appears on Afterbuzztv.com and his weekly THE CHALLENGE: BATTLE OF THE SEASONS Power Rankings can be read on Derek Kosinski’s ultimatechallengeradio.com.