A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although Silver Linings Playbook is an offbeat, affecting dramedy with many comedic moments and one-liners, the story it's telling is really quite dark: It's about two people hampered by mental illness and despondence, respectively, who try to claw their way back to a semblance of normalcy and happiness. It's a romantic film in many ways, as well as a study on dysfunctional families and what makes them work in their own strange (and sometimes uncomfortable) ways. There are references to sex, violence, and gambling, as well as some upsetting scenes in which a character's anger bursts out of control, sometimes leading to physical confrontations (including one in which he knocks his mother down and ends up in a fight with his father). Flashbacks include glimpses of a bloody beating and a naked couple in a shower; there's frequent swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more) and some social drinking.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Fresh off a stint at a mental institution after beating up his estranged wife's lover -- and discovering belatedly that he's bipolar, with mood swings and even delusions triggered by stress -- Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) is determined to win his spouse back. He's lost weight and has learned some healthy ways to cope with stress (including running), so he thinks he has a shot. But his aggrieved mother (Jacki Weaver) and cautious father (Robert DeNiro), who lost his job and is moonlighting as a bookie, aren't so sure. Enter Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister-in-law of Pat's best friend. She's nursing her own wounds, having abruptly lost her cop husband and then drowning her sorrows by sleeping with everyone she knew. She wants a fresh start, too, and enlists Pat in a project that could mean turning a corner for both of them. But emotions soon get in the way, clouding their path.
Is it any good?
There are plenty of reasons to count your blessings if you watch SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. The story, to start (which was adapted from Matthew Quick's novel of the same name). Offbeat and irreverent, it unfolds in a way you won't be able to predict, a gift in an industry that's propelled by far too much predictability. Casting Lawrence, DeNiro, and even Cooper (though he's not flawless) was also a stellar call.
The movie is refracted through Pat's prism, so it's sometimes jangly and bipolar. Like Pat, it's interesting, if a little abrupt in its mood shifts. And the second half is much more intense and compelling than the first half, plot-wise. Silver Linings' quirkiness is endearing, but sometimes, it feels a bit like it's straining to be different -- like it longs for the devil-may-care air of European or Australian romantic dramedies but can't quite get there. If it settled in and relaxed, it would be hard to match. As it stands, Silver Linings Playbook comes with much to recommend it, but, also like Pat, it has to work a little too hard to prove itself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays mental illness. Does it cast a positive or negative light on the mentally ill? How does it compare to other movies and TV shows you've seen on the topic?
Is this film a romantic comedy? Why or why not? How does it turn the genre on its head?
Talk about Pat's breakdown and return to his family. Is his re-entry into regular life believable? Why does his family put up with his eccentricities?
Are the characters admirable? Are they meant to be?
- In theaters: November 16, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: April 30, 2013
- Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
- Director: David O. Russell
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 122 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and some sexual content/nudity
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award, Golden Globe
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