Jennifer Lawrence

Review – The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, narrated by Ray Porter

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“Life is hard, and children have to be told how hard life can be…So they will be sympathetic to others. So they will understand that some people have it harder than they do and that a trip through this world can be a wildly different experience, depending on what chemicals are raging through one’s mind.”   – Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook as a movie was a huge hit.  It was nominated for the top five Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay), and Jennifer Lawrence won the oscar for her performance as Tiffany.  Although I’m not usually a fan of the rom-com genre, I appreciated the movie’s banter and its tender look at the quirks of mental health.  And who could not love that incredible dance at the end?  Epic.  I was pleasantly surprised with the whole thing –  the movie oozed charm.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out on your preferred media subscription program.  (I was going to say check it out on iTunes, and then I added in Netflix, and then I thought about On Demand options and people who prefer to download things or rent them at Redbox, and I realized we’ve seriously expanded since the days of everyone renting a video at Blockbuster.)

After listening to the novel the movie is based on, I understand why other readers at sing its praises from the mountaintops.  The story’s protagonist and narrator, Pat, gains a lot of his charm through dry descriptions of his erratic behavior.  The ease with which Pat explains his odd, compulsive actions and his simplistic outlook on life results in a very amusing read.  I am not a laugh out loud person, which makes watching comedies slightly uncomfortable for me, but I did spontaneously laugh out loud a few times while listening to The Silver Linings Playbook.

The novel is Pat’s tale – he stands out from a crowd of slightly flat supporting characters.  In the movie, the character of Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) has been fleshed out and amped up to meet Pat (Bradley Cooper) at his level of charm.  Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany steals the show in the film, and in the book Tiffany doesn’t have a few of her most memorable scenes.

Another standout feature of the book was its portrayal of the joy of rituals surrounding Pat’s beloved football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.  I am not a sports fan and I did just do a quick Google search to confirm that the Eagles are, in fact, a football team;  however, this book made me understand and appreciate the sheer pleasure of rooting for a team with all your closest friends, yelling chants and getting hyped.

Maybe predictable for the Hollywood version of any story, the movie feels a lot lighter than the book.  Extra plot arcs are created to make the movie goer care a bit more.  Although laden with humor, the subject matter here is at its core bleak – mental illness, family dysfunction, loss.  The jokes based on Pat’s narration, clever and fresh at the beginning of the novel, felt stale by its end.

Movies that are better than the book they are based on are rare birds – it takes a vivid, complicated movie to master a novel’s plot.  Like Fight Club before it, I believe The Silver Linings Playbook has pulled off this feat.  The book is charming and witty, but the movie reaches a higher level of creativity.

Matthew Quick has written several books since The Silver Linings Playbook and they all sound worthy of a read.

Matthew Quick’s page

The Silver Linings Playbook on

The Silver Linings Playbook movie page

I’m seeing double – the faces on the covers of magazines.

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Taylor Swift on the cover of Wonderland (April/May), Elle (March), Vanity Fair (April).

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Kerry Washington on the cover of Elle (June) and Vanity Fair (August).

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Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Elle (December 2012) and Vanity Fair (February 2013).

Is this normal?  Have I, by subscribing to Elle and Vanity Fair both, crossed some sort of target market barrier that was never meant to be breached?  It seems as if doubling up is happening an awful lot to be a coincidence – if a celebrity is featured on the cover of Elle or Vanity Fair, I can be fairly certain she’ll be featured on the other within the next couple months.  Is this considered a good thing, like proving each mag can get the “it” girl of the moment?  Are these two magazines feuding?  Is it chance?  Who knows?  If I said, “Can we get some variety up in here,” would the magazine publishers say back, “Can you just read a smaller selection of magazines so everything seems new?”  Elle is published by Hearst and Vanity Fair is published by Conde Nast, so it is hard to imagine some sort of two for one publicity deals going on.  I’m not sure about any of it, let alone if this an unusual phenomenon.  These are just the questions – I don’t have the answers.  And as cool as Jennifer Lawrence and Kerry Washington are, I’d love to see someone new stamped on that cover too.