Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Silver Linings Playbook

The credits began to roll, and I found myself thinking, What was the big deal? I mean, it’s a perfectly fine little romantic comedy, about as light as cotton candy, and just as sweet. I had a good time, except for the first half hour when I wasn’t expected to. And this qualifies for a Best Picture nomination?

Bradley Cooper is bipolar, just getting out of an institution after having nearly killed his wife’s lover after finding them in the shower. If he moved into my neighborhood, I’d nail up posters to every telephone pole with his picture and NOT READY FOR RELEASE under him. He is SO not ready. He obsesses about getting back with his wife. He listens to NO one, it is all about me, me, me. He is totally inconsiderate of everyone else, including his long-suffering parents, played very well by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver, waking them up repeatedly in the middle of the night to rant about his idiot ideas. I really, really didn’t like him. He was hard to watch.

I believe I understand mental illness well enough. With a bipolar, it’s really not your fault you’re acting like a jack-ass, and can get violent. There’s some wires crossed in there, I get it. They can’t be held responsible for their acts, except one … and that is TAKING YOUR FUCKING MEDS! You say they make you feel foggy, wrapped in plastic, groggy, whatever. Too. Damn. Bad. We’ve all got our crosses to bear, and that’s yours. The fact is, they ENJOY the highs of being bipolar, and I understand that, too. Who wouldn’t? Some days I’m so depressed I’ve love to be bipolar and float in the air with the greatest of ease. But there you are. Don’t want to take them? Fine by me, but I want you behind bars so you don’t hurt or kill people whose heads don’t need evening out. You want to be out, among the rest of us? Then TAKE YOUR FUCKING MEDS! If I was running the world, free bipolar people would have to come in weekly to prove they HAD taken their drugs. One bad test and it’s back to the loony bin for another six months, a year, something like that. I don’t have any sympathy for this dude, who was spitting them out at the hospital and won’t take them now that he’s out.

Naturally, it has to get better, or the movie isn’t a rom-com. He meets Jennifer Lawrence, who is also dealing with a mental condition that takes the form, for her, of behaving like a slut. Here is where it begins to get fun, as they help each other deal with a lot of things. And he finally takes the advice of his Indian shrink (Anupam Kher, in a very nice little stereotype-busting role) and starts back on the pills.

There’s lots of stuff about the family, and particularly the father, being obsessive-compulsive about Philadelphia teams, particularly the Eagles, and making bets. There’s Jennifer’s “project” of learning to dance and entering a competition, and then a very big parlay bet involving the Eagles beating the Cowboys and Brad and Jennifer in the dance competition. And I need issue no spoiler warning at all to tell you that it all turns out happy in the end. Boy gets girl, even though Jenn is fifteen years younger than Brad. Chris Tucker also should be mentioned, as Brad’s friend from the hospital, who has a real nice scene teaching the kids to “black it up” on the floor.

I have to say I was considerably relieved that the couple didn’t have to win the competition for Dad to win the bet, because if they had won I’d have broken the DVD in half, and I didn’t own it. They only had to score a certain number. And frankly, I don’t think they deserved even that. They weren’t very good. They did a little Travolta-Thurman Pulp Fiction move, and the music kept changing, and there was nice bit with Brubeck covering Bernstein’s “Maria” (and a few bars of my favorite Brubeck cut, “Unsquare Dance” a little earlier in the movie), but they didn’t really deserve to be out on the floor with the other couples.

Now, Oscars. Best Picture: I have now seen seven of the eight nominees, and ALL of them were better than this. Best Actor: Maybe Brad deserved his nomination, but it was academic. Daniel Day-Lewis was the biggest lock in many years. Best Actress: Jennifer won, and I’d put her performance about on the same level as Naomi Watts, and both of them maybe a wee bit BELOW Quvenzhané Wallis. Sorry, ladies, that’s the way I see it. I haven’t seen Emmanuelle Riva in Amour. But the best performance of the year was Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty.