Why Do People Like Silver Linings Playbook So Much?

Spoiler Alert: I did not like this movie

Spoiler Alert: I did not like this movie

Because I almost never go to the movies anymore (for reasons I’ll discuss another time), I almost never see movies in the theater anymore. As I result, I don’t usually see a film until months after it has been released, reviewed, won awards, had a narrative formed about it, yadda yadda. At the moment I’m working my way through the Academy Award Contenders from this past year. (The Oscars are beyond stupid and do not at all provide a real measure of what was the best film from the past year, but I like to at least see the Best Picture nominees. Except Les Miserables. I’d rather feed my balls to a paper shredder than sit through a three-hour musical. But so far I’ve really liked Argo and Zero Dark Thirty (which I wrote about, among other things, here), been pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Life of Pi, and hated Django Unchained just as much as I thought I would (my disdain for Quentin Tarantino requires its own post)). The Best Picture contender I watched most recently: Silver Linings Playbook.

I went into Silver Linings Playbook with high expectations. I enjoy David O. Russell’s work, and consider Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, and The Fighter to all be good to excellent films. I like Bradley Cooper. I love Jennifer Lawrence. Robert De Niro playing a bookie, even firmly ensconced in the mailing-in-performances-and-cashing-checks phase of his career, sounds great to me, too. I definitely understand what it’s like to be a crazy, superstitious football fan (I still give opposing kickers the two-finger jinx when they line up for a late-game field goal attempts). And I heard from several people who saw it that it was good.

Unfortunately, the film did not meet my expectations. Not that it was bad–there were things that were good very good about it: I thought Cooper (who I’m pre-disposed to like because he was an English major in college) was really, really good. I thought Chris Tucker in his supporting role was great. I thought the fight scene from the tailgate at Lincoln Field was awesome. And the scene where Cooper finishes A Farewell to Arms and chucks it out the window? I mean, I fucking love that book, but I had the exact reaction when I finished it, as it has one of the most cripplingly depressing endings in all of literature.

But I had a lot of problems with the film. We’ll start with a minor one: When De Niro tells Cooper “We have to win so we can go to the division,” that’s a phrase that no football fan would ever say–you’d say “If we win, we’ll win the division,” or “… so we can go to the playoffs.” I know this is a nitpick, but seriously, if an actor fucks up a line, edit or re-shoot the goddamn scene. I don’t care if it’s Robert De Niro.

Second, I didn’t think J-Law was all that great in the film. She’s not bad, by any means, but I wasn’t blown away by here. And once again, I LOVE JENNIFER LAWRENCE. She’s gorgeous, down-to-earth (seriously, how can you not love someone who gives an interview like this minutes after she wins an Oscar?), and I think she’s a really good actress. Her performance in Winter’s Bone, if you haven’t seen it, is fucking incredible. I even thought she was really good in the last X-Men movie. If actors and actresses had stock-trading prices, hers would be just about the highest in Hollywood. But I don’t think what she did in Silver Linings Playbook was all that impressive, and I don’t think it’s in the same class as what Jessica Chastain did in Zero Dark Thirty.

I know. I'm sorry, J-Law. I still love you.

I know. I’m sorry, J-Law. I still love you.

Finally, and this is the big one (SPOILER ALERT): The ending pissed me off, and if I had a mental illness I would be fucking irate about it. Cooper of course figures out he’s in love with J-Law, and not the wife he’s separated from him, and the last shot, of her sitting on his lap with both of them all lovey-dovey at a family dinner, implies that their falling in love is a magic cure for Cooper’s bipolarity. This is bullshit, and I think it’s disrespectful toward people who struggle with depression, bipolarity, and other mental illnesses. I would expect better from David O. Russell, especially given that his son attended a boarding school for special education students.

So that’s how I feel about Silver Linings Playbook. Did I miss something? Am I totally off base? Take to the comments and tell me what you think.

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5 Responses to Why Do People Like Silver Linings Playbook So Much?

  1. Love Your Movies says:

    I think you missed the point of the ending. If you notice he refuses to take his meds throughout the movie until he begins his routine with tiffany which gives him structure and then he also begins taking his meds. He realizes that Tiffany has helped him do this and did not look for another way out the way his wife did and that her love for him is deeper and more meaningful.

  2. jamharl says:

    For me, Silver Linings Playbook is complicated but in the it’s LOVE that makes everything clear (with direction).

  3. Lee says:

    I loved this movie.

    First like, food, wine, music, art and on and on……. what constitutes good is entirely subjective. Since you did mention specific points that you had “issues” with I was motivated to respond with perhaps a different perspective.

    Before I respond let me first list some of the movies I absolutely love and those I think are way over-rated. This way if you love the movies I love you can take stock in my opinions and if you don’t then you should probably take my opinions with a grain of salt. (sorry for all the cliches).

    Movies I Love (in no particular order): The Shawshank Redemption, Broadcast News, The Godfather, Notting Hill, Hoosiers, An Officer and a Gentleman, The Deer Hunter, Die Hard, Rocky, The Immpossible, Argo, As Good As It Gets.

    Movies I think are overrated – The English Patient, Citizen Kane, Out of Africa, Lincoln, Lost in Translation and pretty much anything by Woody Allen

    Lastly before I start to debate your the problems you had with the film let say since you are a writer I will hold you to a higher standard than I would someone who just posts comments to a review or blog.

    Your first issue was with the line DeNiro uses – “We have to win so we can go to the division,”. Let me say I have seen this movie over a dozen time (yes I liked it that much) and I can’t say I picked up on that exact wording. I agree it’s not something a football fan would say and as a football fan I think I would have noticed that phrasing. The next time I watch it I will pay closer attention. Regardless though something like that would have no bearing on my enjoyment of a film. Films are full of minor inaccuracies, either by mistake or just to dumb them down to make them more accessible to the masses. I think you miss out on enjoying many fine films if you discount them based on one or two small inconsequential details.

    Your second point is that Jennifer Lawrence did not give an extrodinary performance. Before we debate though, let me just ask, please drop the J-Law, it’s been done to death, you are a writer so give us something new and clever or just use her real name. I personally thought this was not only the best performance of the year but I am pressed to think of a better performance by an actress ever (OK maybe a bit over the top but I really was moved by her acting). They way she conveyed such emotion, especially when she wasn’t saying lines was phenomenal. The look she had after creating the scene in front of the movie theatre, you knew she understood him in a way that only another “crazy” person could, she knew she had pushed him over the edge and was profoundly remorseful for doing it. The look she had when Bradley Coopers character thwarts one of her pursuers at her front door – you saw such vulnerability and saw how she was falling in love for Coppers character – all without uttering a word. The looks and expressions she had in the final climax when she reads Cooper’s letter, you don’t get that kind of raw believable emotion in many movies. I could go on and on but I won’t, if I get the urge to I will start my own blog – ha ha.

    Your last point was that you feel the ending basically says that love can cure mental illness. I think you really missed the point so no wonder you didn’t like the movie. I don’t think there is even the tiniest hint that either one of them is cured. I think the movie tries to portray what a struggle it is to have, and often to deny, living with a mental illness. I would imagine (but would not dare to presume) that living with a mental illness it is far harder to find moments of joy and happiness than it is for you and I. To find somebody who really understands you, that brings you these moments of joy, and while not curing you does make you a better person, that in my opinion is the point of the movie.

  4. Karis K says:

    This movie & it’s concept wore absolutely horrible. Why so many critics & the likes found this movie so wonderful, is absolutely lost on me??? The constant mental disorders that abound from all the cast & how it was dealt w/ was so unbelievable as was the lack of character development. All entertainment is lost just watching the completely unrealistic plunge into the constant disturbing & undeveloped characters’ behavior of the whole cast. Then the whole fiasco becomes built around all these stupid superstitions & trying to tie a dance competition & a football game into a betting scenario is just grabbing at straws. I feel dumber for having watched it in full thinking this must get better–so many people/critics loved it??? Of course we finally get to the end of this disaster where of course the message is supposed to be that love will triumph through it all, including serious mental disorders (bi-polar, co-dependency, violent behavior & ignorance) to this I say COME ON!!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I just find it boring 😛 cant even watch half of the movie

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