Every Wednesday, Todd, Editorial Assistant and resident film geek at The Hundreds, lets us know exactly what to watch, feel, and eat for our miserable hump day night in with “Shut Up & Watch.” So shut up, because tonight, we’re gonna watch fuckin’ Silver Linings Playbook.
It’s Wednesday night. You just took off your socks so you’re dealing with that itch, your laundry pile has become the recommended weight for a 47-year-old man, and you’re buzzed enough to remember you’re still ugly. What do you do? You act like a good American, shove those feelings deep down, and top it with a distraction (movie) so there’s no chance of them popping up in public. What movie? Good question hypothetical reader B. There’s no shame in admitting it, you’re lonely enough to need a romantic movie, just give in, no one can see you. But you’re turned off by the onslaught of pink romantic movie covers full of unnecessary shrugging. You’re at a crossroads, what do you do? I have a trick, we’re going to put on Silver Linings Playbook because it’s technically not a romantic movie, so you can walk away with your ego intact and still get your inner 8th grade girl giddy. So let’s ignore what Silver Linings Playbook is really about - which is a man afflicted by mental illness - and just take a look at how director David O. Russell secretly made one of best romantic comedies out there. Love and mental illness are the same side of the same coin anyways. Basically, I’m going to help you turn a smart, A+ masterpiece into a mindless but beloved B movie; since you’ve probably seen this a few fajillion times already.
Silver Linings Playbook
What it is: 96/100 (A)
What it really is: 100/100 (A+)
What it really, really is: Waiting two hours to hide the biggest smile of your life/100 (No shame+)
Cut the shit and relax the gut - you’ve spent your whole life pretending you didn’t like The Notebook, Annie Hall, Definitely Maybe, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Love Actually, About Time, Garden State, and any other movie that requires you to have a soul to watch. But tonight, as usual, you’re alone and in need. However, you only want to give your toes a small dipping into your lame side. Solution? Silver Linings. Why? You can pretend to like it for the football, De Niro, and drama - while you’re really waiting for him to chase her down a street filled with wildly necessary out of focus Christmas lights. Also, you’re in your Oscar mode, but don’t want to spend 16 burritos worth of money seeing the new ones. So it’s time you stop acting like you don’t blush at every first kiss, mentally replace the lead with yourself, hold your breath during the vague Christmas-y/airporty/hotel-y music in the final, win-back chase, and unwillingly gasp when the “natural” beauty inevitably catches Hunky Lead X fucking up. But you don’t have to admit that you like montages set to an early 2000s soundtrack; only three movies can pull of lyrics. Also, indie movies are being pumped out like a colonoscopy gone right, so it’s a matter of time until it becomes trendier to like Hollywood again. Silver Linings Playbook proves that no matter how “deep” and handheld your beloved indie films are, Hollywood does the indie feel better. Why? That underrated sprinkle of Hollywood.
How to Watch:
or Netflix of course.
Simple instructions for a simple movie - if you want to focus on the romantic parts (which you do) then there’s one, simple way to do that efficiently. And that’s on the couch, covered in used tissues. That’s really it. Of course, this is an Oscar movie, so we pay it respect by having zero lights on, volume one notch above comfort level (ironically for the soundless, tender moments. The contrast gives it a punch), but your seat in its regular position for pure observing’s sake. But if you’ve read any of my old posts, the same rules apply.
What to Eat:
For Silver Linings Playbook you’re going to want a nice, thick layer of melted ice cream with chocolate hot dogs sprawled out in the nastiest part of your stomach. Chocolate hot dogs are just chocolate bars wrapped in hot dog buns by the way; you’re extremely welcome. Sure, I may have just introduced you to the way you die, but it’s a necessity to get into that “dumped lard” state of mind where romantic comedies thrive.
What to Pay Attention to:
Chris Tucker. No, even ignoring 70% of the movie and its commentary on mental illness, there’s so much; so I’ll basically do bullet points. David O. Russell may not even know it, but he’s a romantic comedy genius. He probably knows it. First off, by the time we meet the female love interest (Jennifer Lawrence), we’re 20 minutes in. This means she’s the plot point that pushes the movie into act two, ensuring she stays as a supporting character but also hinting at her ability to affect Bradley Cooper’s fate. She’s set up as important early on. Also, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are definitely wearing opposite colors when they first meet, which subtly tricks the brain through the eye into connecting them. The movie’s filled with little tricks like framing a family portrait between the two, but I’ll let you find more. Then you got the your key to romance: flaws. All people share the same positive traits, but everyone’s faults are unique. So David O. Russell must’ve known this because he introduces some of the most flawed characters I’ve ever seen, makes you fall in love with them, then their weaknesses, then have them share similar weaknesses, all before having them fall in love with the same flaws you just did. This is how you get believable, memorable characters to stand out against the sea of grinning Hugh Grants. Lots of little things over one big thing.
David does this interesting spin on romance, he has the lead uninterested in the supporting character for most of the movie. So instead of watching someone fail at convincing the 20-minutes-of-screen-time girl to let him see her naked, we’re with the one being chased. While it’s not that shocking, it’s important to keep it from becoming a sterile, rule-adhering romance. Lastly (only for length’s sake), as much as you love to hate it, the overly-cheesy chase scenes through the streets of City X are honestly why these movies work. But it has to earn it. Silver Linings earns it because this is the first time the lead’s actually interested in her, and fuck, have you been waiting for that. Plus, instead of the lead’s character arc being completed because he wants the girl, his arc is completed directly because of the girl. These scenes only works if they’re the icing on the cake - by the time they’re face-to-face, his story is already complete, he doesn’t need the girl because he’s overcome all he’s needed to. So you bet your ass we’d better fucking get to see them kissing as the camera flies away into the night sky. It even does it without “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross playing through the outro. Oh, the script is basically a text book on how to write a script by the way.
Now, good lord, it’s been a struggle for me not to go off on the whole romantic comedy genre because I already know how pathetic I am, so I have no problem basking in romantic comedy glory. Also, coming from a place where I have close ones with mental illnesses, it’s hard not to get into that, especially considering they’re the best parts of the movie. Like Bradley Cooper’s manic episode set to a bipolar Led Zeppelin song. The whole movie is perfectly, simply constructed. So if you’re comfortable enough in yourself to nerd out in the comments below, I’ll join. Or if you have movie suggestions, I’d love to ignore them.