Screwball genre updated
De Niro shines as ‘Silver Linings’ updates grand comedic tradition
“Silver Linings Playbook” asks the question: Can an “undiagnosed bipolar” history teacher find love with a “crazy slut with a dead husband”?
Answer: If a perplexed paleontologist can fall for a madcap heiress in “Bringing Up Baby,” and a cynical news- paperman can succumb to the charms of a fraudulent victim of radium poisoning in “Nothing Sacred,” why not?
The two movies mentioned above are classic examples of a trend in 1930s cinema that came to be identified as “screwball comedy.” As distinguished from the standard romantic comedy, these films were notable for their strong female characters, their class- consciousness, their breakneck witty repartee and their embrace of situations so absurd and farcical they suggested the world had gone “screwball.” (This was accurate, economically speaking: The genre was born during the Depression.)
“Screwball” is a comic slang term for “crazy,” and perhaps this is what inspired writerdirector David O. Russell to more or less literalize as well as update the screwball comedy genre in his new movie, “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Adapted from a 2008 novel by Matthew Quick, “Silver Linings Playbook” casts Bradley Cooper as the aforementioned bipolar history teacher, Pat Solitano, who has moved back into the Philadelphia home of his working-class parents after a court-ordered stint in a mental institution. This residency
As Tiffany Maxwell, Jennifer Lawrence channels screwball comedy heroines of old such as Katharine Hepburn and Carole Lombard as she pursues Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook.”