Ah, 'twas only a few months back when we hadn't seen any of the nine 2013 Oscar nominees for best picture. As of now, we've seen seven. (Of the remaining two, Amour hasn't made it onto DVD yet, and Netflix's rating predictor doesn't think I'd like Beasts of the Southern Wild very much, so it's pretty far down in the queue.)
Silver Linings Playbook was pleasantly quirky, a modern screwball comedy. And that "screwball" thing is meant literally: the two main characters, and a lot of the supporting cast, are quite frankly insane, dancing on the edge of total dysfunction. I.e., not at all the a sugarcoated, quirky, Katherine-Hepburn-in-Bringing-Up-Baby insanity. It's the real deal.
Fortunately, the mental illness is not sentimentalized either. And so: yeah, they don't call 'em funny farms for nothing. A lot of the stuff crazy people do can be funny. If you're not personally involved.
Bradley Cooper (Oscar nominee) plays Pat Jr., just getting out of an eight-month stay in the institution. He's managed to destroy his marriage, get cuckolded, and badly beat his wife's paramour. But he's still delusional about getting his job back and reuniting with his wife. And he's off his meds. Pretty clearly, he's on the verge of further insitutionalization.
Pat Sr, (Robert DeNiro, Oscar nominee) is also nutty in his own way: an Eagles fan, he's been banned from the stadium for fighting. He's lost his job and taken up bookmaking. And he's obsessive-compulsive about his Sunday routine for game-watching: remotes just so, scarf clutched in one hand, … Fortunately, Mom (Oscar nominee Jackie Weaver) is long-suffering and relatively sane.
Pat Jr.'s quest to communicate with his ex-wife in defiance of a restraining order leads him to meet Tiffany (Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence); she's (in her own words) a "crazy whore widow" with an obsession for participating in a dance competition at a fancy downtown Philly hotel. Guess who she picks to partner with?
I wouldn't have thought that a movie so rooted in serious mental dysfunction could be so entertaining. Probably we'll see more than a few would-be imitators coming down the pike.