Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

May 15, 2013

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ finds structure in mental script

DVD Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — Only in Hollywood magic land can the stressful and never hilarious situation of dealing with violently mentally ill family members be turned into one of the most beloved comedy creations ever. Whether you marry into or happen to be lucky enough to have grown up with someone certifiable, the punch lines are far less healing in real world situations versus a cinematic series of events where you can turn it off with a remote control and not have to deal with it later.

Thankfully for audience members viewing today’s particular submission, it is all fantasy and no matter how increasingly whacko each and every one of the characters appear, you don’t have to go through it more than once if you choose not to. However, it’s not to infer a lack of enjoyment during my own examination, but after finally getting a chance to check out another big contender from the most recent Academy Awards, I’d be perfectly satisfied if I’d only laughed along with it once and done that. Despite all the quirks thriving throughout “Silver Linings Playbook,” it’s a brain induced train wreck which certainly sets itself apart in a year where just about every other flick was also award worthy.

The story set involves the recently acquired freedom of Patrick Solitano (Bradley Cooper), after spending the last eight months in an institution for treatment of his bipolar disorder. There because of losing his mind after finding his wife with a lover, his only options now are to move in with his parents and attend regular therapy through his court-mandated therapist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher).

Despite the constant advice like staying away from his spouse, he spends about three fourths of the flick obsessing on how to communicate with this woman and is at a loss how to secretly do so until he meets a potentially equally kooky widow named Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence). When not displaying how his condition is likely a family trait through people like his Philadelphia Eagles obsessed father Patrizio Solitano (Robert De Niro), both he and Tiffany switch circumstances of using each other’s needs for their own gain like training to be her dance partner at a holiday competition. The madness only escalates with each passing scene and by the time it all wraps up you’re either rolling on the floor laughing or fitting yourself for a straightjacket.

Though I would have potentially passed over Lawrence for the best actress Oscar for Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” she is an example of the cast as a whole being so good that the rather weak script behind it was irrelevant. On its own with a weaker set of actors, the story may have felt much more flat and at times behaved as flipped out and unorganized as the personalities portrayed.

With that said, if you don’t mind an artsier take on mental comedy, I’d recommend it for that crowd and be cautious toward anyone who is the least bit obsessive about organization. I doubt I will own it, but harbor no real regret for sitting through it. After only considering therapy once or twice before it was over, I’d say “Silver Linings Playbook” earns three out of five episodes.

DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.