*Spoilers* This isn't an all out movie review but it definitely talks about lots of details in the movie. I saw a screening of Silver Linings Playbook last night before it hits theatres next week. I tried not to spoil any of the major plot lines, but if you don't like knowing anything about a movie before you see it, don't read this. I'd suggest clicking on this Jennifer Lawrence photo gallery instead.
"Don't drink too much. Don't hit anybody. You'll be fine."
That's what Robert De Niro's character says to his son, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), when he drops him off to tailgate at the Linc for the big game against the New York Giants. Pretty spot on dialogue, but why wouldn't De Niro be going to the game as well you may be wondering as casual Eagles fan? As the story goes, De Niro's been banned from the stadium for cracking too many Cowboys' fans' skulls back in the day. Solid coverage.
It's a good example of the detail with which the main characters of Silver Linings Playbook feel authentic to Delaware County and the Philadelphia area. The book the movie is based on takes place in Collingswood, New Jersey, but the movie moves them within blocks of where I grew up near the Llanarch Diner on the Havertown/Upper Darby border.
[RELATED: VIDEO: See how De Niro learned his Philly accent from Cooper's uncle Ernie]
The movie opens up with Cooper in a mental institution, talking aloud practicing what he'll say to his wife who he hasn't seen in nine months because of some violent incident. He's telling himself/her that he's now a calmer, more peaceful person who uses the routine of Sunday dinner at his parents, watching an Eagles game as the center of a happy life. You can almost hear family members swearing at the TV as the Birds inevitably screw something up and taste the string in mom's braciole.
Silver Linings Playbook is not a movie about Eagles fans, but its very much a movie about people who happen to be diehard Eagles fans.
(If you think I liked Silver Linings just because Eagles fans are prominently featured, go read this 2006 blog post I did about Invincible.)
I've seen the movie described as a romantic comedy, but it's quite a bit darker than your typical rom-com (I'm kind of assuming here, not high on my list of types of movies I go see). The back and forth between laugh-out-loud moments and other scenes where you're literally covering your face in shock makes you feel like they dance the line between comedy and drama rather impressively.
De Niro played one of the best roles I can recall seeing him play in a long, long time. He had the crazy Italian dad from Delco on point. From the fact that he's OCD about how he watches the Birds every Sunday -- placing his TV remotes and houseguests in very specific places -- to the fact that he's a compulsive gambler running a small-time bookie operation, De Niro's character felt authentic. Tim Donaghy would approve.
I thought all of the depictions of Eagles fans were pretty damn on point. This being a Philly sports blog, I'm going to look in detil at how they handled the Philly sports angles. Here are ten things about the Eagles they did well in Silver Linings Playbook and two they may not have.
1.) One of the first things Cooper's dad (De Niro) talks to him about is how pissed off he was at DeSean Jackson dropping the ball on the one-yard line and negating a touchdown against the Cowboys. A fantastic nugget. Also, any male sports fan can relate to how De Niro's character and his son try to use sports as the starting point for a real father-son relationship.
2.) De Niro gives his Cowboys' fan friend some awesome razzing, questioning how a guy from Philly could be a fan of a team in Dallas. "What's more American than a cowboy?" his friend asks. De Niro trumps him with famous Philadelphian, Benjamin Franklin. Not the greatest answer, but the interplay between the frenemies here is straight from the streets of Delco.
3.) De Niro rocking the green cardigan sweater with the old school Eagles logo was pimp.
4.) De Niro has a closet full of Eagles games recorded on VHS.
5.) There's a scene at Cooper's therapist's office, an old Indian guy, in which Cooper is wondering if his choice of attire, an Eagles jersey, for a fancy Sunday dinner party was too informal. The shrink asks him which player's jersey he was rocking and after Cooper tells him a new No. 10 DeSean Jackson jersey, the shrink's response is hilarious. "DeSean's the man!" the therapist shouts in approval. This got tremendous laughter at the downtown Philly theatre. (Remember how much we drooled over DJacc in 2008?)
6.) The fight at the Linc tailgate -- This was the only real Eagles teaser we got in the trailer and I was very curious to see how/why this fight went down. I must say, they even got this pretty damn right. It shows the dichotomy between great Philadelphia fans -- which most of you who read this site probably would be categorized as enjoying a fun time at a tailgate with some cold beers -- contrasted with the dark side of sports fandom with ignorant, racists fans looking for trouble. Sometimes people get punched in the face.
7.) One of the major plot lines revolved around gambling on the Eagles-Cowboys game on December 27th, 2008. Any Eagles fan immediately knows how that one ends, but I liked how the last update they give you in the film before the drama goes down is the game tied at 3-3. Fake cliff hanger!
8.) Cooper's family and friends' reaction to the very formal and stuffy dance competition felt very authentic to how some diehard sports fans from Delco might actually react in such an unfamiliar setting
9.) Jennifer Lawrence in yoga pants doing Dancing with the Stars-type crawling maneuvers. Not remotely difficult to look at.
10.) There's a scene where Jennifer Lawrence unexpectedly recites where she was on days when the Eagles beat the Falcons 27-14, when the Phillies beat the Dodgers in the NLCS, when the Fightins beat Tampa in Game 4 of the World Series; It's frigging awesome. De Niro's reaction here is priceless.
Bonus: There is at least one Andy Reid-Timeout joke.
Two Minor Gripes: 1.) a detail that could have taken the Philly sports quotient up a notch: real game commentary. At a few instances in the movie when they're watching games, there is fake commentary from actual Eagles games that took place in reality. Using Eagles radio voice Merrill Reese would have been badass, but even some Fox TV commentary would have been better. We assume this to do with licensing issues. 2.) What was with the Cowboys fan guy later wearing a Giants shirt as well?
The fact that this wasn't a movie about being an Eagles fan helped the fact that the people in the movie just happened to be Eagles fans much more enjoyable. The characters felt real to me. Their relationships felt real. I might nitpick a few things here and there about the believability of some of the progressions in the love-story, but overall the movie told an enjoyable story.
But we all know how the 2008 Eagles season ends. Hollywood couldn't change that.
See something Eagles-related we missed in Silver Linings? Got any questions about the film I may be able to answer in the comments, ask away.