Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

Silver Linings Playbook - Emerging Oscar Dark Horse - Review

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silverliningsplaybookposter.jpgGet ready for your dark horse Oscar candidate of the year if the distributor doesn't screw it all up. 

Bradley Cooper stars as Pat - the troubled former teacher who ended up in a mental health facility after a violent act that led to his arrest and prosecution.  Of course, this event was not a one-time act, but the manifestation of years of mental health troubles, so the help has been a long time coming.

Now, he has been let out under the supervision of his mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver), and father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), which is much like jumping from the frying pan and into the fire with all of Dad's issues and troubles.  Still clinging to the hope he will win back his wife and job, Pat embarks on a mission to do so, with consequences even he cannot imagine.

Can Pat get control of his life?

Will he realize super hot, gorgeous, equally troubled neighborhood lady, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), is a nice catch?

In the hands of lesser talent, Silver Linings Playbook would be an annoying, overly cute, unbelievable piece of trash heading on a collision course with disaster and good taste.  Thankfully, it's a group of the finest actors around and a writer/director of Oscar caliber quality giving you a heartbreaking, hilarious, emotional ride through the troubled life.

Writer/director David O. Russell gives us a movie (based on the novel by Matthew Quick) which seems to have predictability in abundance, but complicates everything just enough with fantastic dialogue to make the entire audience cheer when the twists and turns develop.  He captures the great awkwardness of conversations, especially as Pat and Tiffany are brutally honest about everything and are willing to speak the most outrageous of statements, no matter who might be in the room.  

Plus, the audience always finds itself rooting for Tiffany and Pat.  Like with any movie romance, you just know they belong together, no matter what hurdles are placed in their path by the world or their own mistakes.  It might be contrived that way, but we are willing to forgive and accept because the path to what we expect is rewarding.  

Cooper is great at creating a character who is sympathetic and likable, but truly succeeds when he brings out the guy's dark side and thoughts.  It may scare us, but, because of Cooper, we don't start hating Pat.  It's a journey through mental health troubles that is perfectly realistic as we see Pat's delusions, pain, frustration, desire to be better and the weight this illness puts on his life.

Then, Cooper and Lawrence become the greatest pair of kindred, troubled souls you have ever seen in a movie.  They share amazing chemistry, but what's even more amazing is watching Lawrence display so many of the conflicts within Tiffany.  What starts as another way for her to hurt herself becomes a way to help herself, so the audience watches the changes in how Tiffany feels about Pat and the fear it brings to her. 
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And, we haven't even mentioned De Niro!  He might not be the star of the movie, but his big scene with Lawrence is nothing short of mind blowing.

Silver Linings Playbook was supposed to open everywhere on November 21.  Then, it was to open in some theaters November 16 and everywhere November 21.  Now, The Weinstein Company will open it in some theaters November 16, maybe 400 or so on November 21, up to maybe 800 by November 30 and everywhere throughout the holiday season and into the new year.  That is, if they don't change their minds again.  

Whenever it finally opens in your city, get your tickets before it disappears.

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4 Waffles (Out of 4)


Silver Linings Playbook is rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity