Robert DeNiro

Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

This Playbook Produces a Winner



What happens when two mental patients get together? Sounds like the beginning of an old joke but Silver Linings Playbook is no joke.

Silver Linings Playbook is a sometimes disturbing and sometimes comical look into bi-polar, OCD, and other mental illnesses. Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat Solatano, Jr., has lost his wife, job, and house and is now living with his parents after spending 8 months in a mental institution because of a bi-polar outbreak. He nearly beat a man to death after finding him in the shower with his wife having sex to their wedding song.

His parents want him to settle into their living pattern and participate in their obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles which is accompanied with many OCD rituals. His father, played by Robert DeNiro, has lost everything betting on the Eagles and puts pressure on Pat to carry on the traditions of the game. Pat Sr. then parlays his bet and bets all he has in order to open a restaurant.

In the mean time Pat Jr. is trying to establish a new life for himself. He is invited to a friend’s house for dinner where he meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who has her own problems. She is a young widow and a recovering sex addict. Both are a bit unconventional and lack the normal screening process most people have that prevents them from blurting out some inappropriate comments. And, speaking of inappropriate, Pat spends much of the movie dressed in a sweat suit and a trash bag.

The movie climaxes at a dance competition in which the novice couple, Pat and Tiffany, must win at least 5 out of 10 points in order to satisfy part of Pat Sr.’s bet.

This is a story of family and accepting one’s self and others no matter what life throws at us. It may not always go as planned but it usually has a silver lining.

The movie also has some powerfully emotional scenes played by Cooper, Lawrence, DeNiro, and Jacki Weaver as his mother. Silver Linings Playbook has been nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and nominations for all four of the major actors—Bradley Cooper (leading male actor), Jennifer Lawrence (leading actress), Robert DeNiro (supporting actor), Jacki Weaver (supporting actress).

After seeing the movie I can understand why it has received so many nominations. The chemistry developed between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and Cooper and DeNiro is amazing.

Silver Linings Playbook is a good look at mental illness done with a touching and sometimes humorous hand. I give it a B+

Two Movie Reviews on Video: Limitless and Source Code

If you are looking for some good and inexpensive entertainment this weekend be sure to rent Limitless and/or Source Code. Both are well written movies with twists and turns, lots of action, and thought-provoking moral issues at their core.

Limitless opens with smartly dressed Bradley Cooper wavering atop a high rise balcony, one foot over the edge, and bad guys breaking down the door. Suddenly there is a flash back to a long-haired, bearded, disheveled Cooper so pathetic his girl friend leaves him as he lamely struggles to meet his publisher’s deadline on a book he hasn’t even started. While aimlessly wandering the streets of New York City Cooper’s character, Eddie Morra, runs into the brother of his ex-wife who is a drug dealer. He gives Eddie a sample of a new drug called NZT-48 that promises to enhance his brain power to 100% as opposed to the normal 20%.

Eddie takes the pill and is propelled into a world of limitless knowledge, capabilities, and energy. He finishes his book and then returns to ex brother-in-law’s apartment for more pills but finds him murdered. Eddie calls the police but also finds the hidden stash of NZT-48 and mucho moola.  Eddie uses the money to establish a new life for himself and begins trading stocks. He soon attracts the attention of Carl Van Loon played by Robert DeNiro, a very rich, powerful, and cut-throat businessman. As Eddie becomes more entangled in the business world he is also getting more wrapped up in the miracle drug. He learns it has dangerous side effects causing lost periods of time, hyper activity, and eventually death. The pace of the movie becomes more and more frantic until it comes to a chaotic climax.

Limitless is very entertaining and leaves you asking yourself, “What would I do if I could take a pill and achieve fame and fortune?” Is it worth the risk?

Source Code also asks some thought-provoking questions, however, the main character, Colter Stevens played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is in a scenario not of his choosing. Stevens, an Army helicopter pilot, awakens inside a cockpit and hears a voice verifying his identity. The voice, Air Force Captain Colleen Goodwin, explains he is inside the Source Code, an experimental device that allows its user to experience the last eight minutes of a person’s life within an alternate timeline. His mission is to use the source code to discover the location of a bomb on board a train and who is responsible for it. She explains that the train exploded that morning as a warning that there is also a hidden dirty bomb ready to detonate and destroy most of Chicago. His mission will save millions of lives.

Stevens is propelled through the source code many times until he accomplishes his mission but we also discover during the journey things aren’t as they seem. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot here but at the end we find there are many questions involving the sanctity of life, meaning of love for life and family, and the dilemma of whether or not to obey orders.

Both films are action packed with good plot and character development. They also cause you to think, which I always feel is an added bonus to an entertaining movie. I give both movies an A-.