Screw­ball genre up­dated

De Niro shines as ‘Sil­ver Lin­ings’ up­dates grand comedic tra­di­tion

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Stage - By John Bei­fuss

“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.”

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