Pat Solantano one day runs in on his wife, Nikki, cheating on him with a man. In turn he beats the living hell out of the guy. Instead of being sent to prison he is sent to a mental institution for 8 months. There he’s diagnosed with bipolar disorder. After he’s released he is forced by the state to regularly attend therapy sessions and his parents have agreed to take him in. While sorting out his life he runs into Tiffany. She’s another person who’s fell on difficult ties and they bond somehow.
There are three kinds of romance movies that are over played completely. One goes on about how different men and women are, despite the fact that they all have the same base urges and needs. Another is the cliché romance movie that is pretty much 90+ minutes of nothing happening except two forced people to develop chemistry between each other and then maybe 10 actual minutes of drama to bring the two together. All actions are usually 100% predictable. The last is what I call a ‘look-at-the-crazies’ drama where people are screwed up so much they need someone else to compliment their screwed up nature or someone else screwed up to make up for their short comings. This movie is the latter and is why I don’t care for it. The past few years have seen a rise in these style of romance dramas and it isn’t a bad thing, but it’s very repetitive.
Most of the ‘laughs’ seem to be driven from the nuances of the characters, like most movies. But with this film all the laughs are from the negative aspects of the character. Let me give you a example: Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) becomes unhinged after being admitted to the mental hospital. He’s assumed to be more vocal and even make a comment on how he doesn’t censor himself anymore. This leads to a lot of the awkward jokes between him and many people. So if he didn’t go to the institution he basically wouldn’t be making a ass of himself left and right. Another is Tiffanys (Jennifer Lawrence) in your face attitude that is suggested to be brought on, or have a stronger presence, due to her late husbands death. This leads to a lot of the follow up ‘laughs’ after Cooper’s character does something. Its classic comedy setup, but the catalysts for the actions might encourage the audience to laugh at people of the same nature or in similar circumstances. That’s why I’m not labeling this as a comedy.
On top of all this movie is the definition of first world problems. Another way to put it is ‘pretty white people with problems.’ This was the same problem many of the WB shows had and a lot of the horrible 90s sitcoms. The first problem with how he went to the mental institution. He went into his own house and attacked a man in congress with his wife. Other parts of the world I have been too would have basically patted him on the back and let him go. However in this story it was seen as a issue and locked him away despite the fact that he had a just reason to be angry. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Another is Pat’s fathers obsession with American football. This risky betting is not only encouraged throughout the film, but unrealistic. This was cliché considering A) he’s American and B) he placed more importance on the sport then his family, most of the time.
Then the Tiffany character’s only flaw is that she dealt with her mourning poorly and is a compulsive liar. One of the flaws about her that they keep bringing up is that she sleep around. Really you slept around? Well boo fucking hooo for you. At least you got to fuck. Most people aren’t born good looking like her, well off financially, in a privileged country like America, nor do they have the ability to pick up whatever genitalia they want for the night. Gee what a ‘problem’ that must be for her. Sure it’s a obnoxious moral ambiguity of hers, and she even admits to liking being a slut, but she admitted to stopping once she got fired from her previous job. So she, through out the movie, was slowly fixing herself. Yes it wasn’t the best way possible, but she was doing something most people can’t: freak out and correct her own behavior. So why all the characters kept bringing her up as a issue, without giving many details, was very irritating.
Also the Tiffany character is too cliché. She seems to know exactly what to do more then 90% of the time. She shows up at just the right times to intentionally force Pat to make some sort of self realization or help his family get their junk together. Now this wouldn’t be so noticeable if it weren’t for the fact that she seems to be the only one to have this magical ability. Pat’s own therapist doesn’t seem to have that much of impact on the story. No one, except her, seems to be able to be anything other then just background characters and their characters don’t serve a purpose at all, unlike other movies of this caliber.
For reference Juno was a lot like this except they were teenagers. Both of Junos parents helped move the story along, as well as 4+ other characters. Now sure the story is based on the love between two people. Although the thing that really helps most love stories shine is the side characters who not only express their own needs for love, but add to the main character(s) own ideals and even help the character see other sides of whatever situation. Yeah there are a few movies that don’t use side characters to this extent, but the self discovery aspect isn’t so lopsided or forced by the other main character. So debatably if Tiffany didn’t exist Pat wouldn’t be recovering so quickly from a failed marriage. Also you can’t continually imply that the girl is screwed up during the movie multiple times and yet have all her actions are near perfect. It screws up her character development due to the conflicting story elements. I mean for crying out loud Tiffany even brings up how screwed up she is multiple times.
The acting, despite the horrible story, was top notch from everyone. A lot of it was Oscar worthy or to revive a few careers. This is probably Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro‘s best performance. Although Cooper still played a frat brother like role. De Niro was refreshing because usually he’s a mobster, or a complete douche. Here he’s behaving rationally and normal and with this role I think it solidifies him as a well rounded actor. I’m not sure if Jennifer Lawrence deserved the Oscar, because I didn’t see the ladies she was competing against in their movies. However she was notably good, despite how I completely despise the hype behind her. She proved she could give a good range of acting in this film, with a few exceptions. Julia Stiles and John Ortiz were nice additions, but their shining moments of acting were sparse and they deserved a little more screen time.
This is the film to watch if you want to see all of the actors at their best. The steady character development is welcoming and will surely draw many in to watch further. However, the draw back is the story. It has pointless long montage scenes. The main drive for many of the punch lines is based upon the characters major flaws and it seems to laugh at them rather then with them. Also the context of the story is terribly forced, cliché, and one character made me question the believability of the story due to their actions. Also a lot of the dialogue is forgettable.
I’m sorry, but this is a really boring story.