On DVD & Blu-Ray: April 30, 2013

If you've read Matthew Quick's novel from which writer/director David O. Russell adapted the screenplay then you know the way in which the story unfolds and many of the facets for which things happen are completely different. Different in a way that most films adapted from novels are not. This isn't simply a condensed version of the story, but is in fact a different way of telling it completely. This doesn't mean that the book is better than the movie, that kind of comparison isn't even relevant in this situation. The book and film feel like a completely different entity only linked by the names of the people and the themes they represent. The storytelling techniques differ completely. Sure, there are certain things cut for time and not as elaborated on in the film as they were in the book (I would have liked to see more of the Asian Invasion and Pat's relationship with his brother) but the film also does away with some of the more conventional trappings of the novel as well. The film follows Pat (Bradley Cooper) as he leaves a mental institution after having beat the man his wife was cheating on him with within an inch of his life. It is learned through this altercation that Pat has bipolar disorder and Silver Linings Playbook is him coming out of that stage in his life, redefining who he is and trying not necessarily to move on but to become what he feels he should have been before the incident. Though Russell doesn't spend a ton of time wallowing on Pat's obsession to win back his ex-wife, Nikki (Brea Bee) and changes the dynamics of the relationship between Pat and his father (a wonderful Robert DeNiro) greatly he does so in a way that doesn't disrespect the source material but enhances the developments of the story that come along in the final acts of the film. What is the rock of the novel is still the main focus within the film and that is the developing relationship between Pat and Tiffany (Oscar winning Jennifer Lawrence). It is clear there is a connection between the two and the magic of the film is watching these two outcast characters connect with one another knowing they are the only two people in the world being honest with one another about one another. A

The Guilt Trip really has no right to be as good, as touching, or even as funny as it turns out to be. There is an entire genre for these kinds of brisk, whimsy holiday films that take a subject everyone can relate to and turns them into a by the numbers production that we can all leave happy with. In some ways these comfort food type films are what the movies are all about. They are escapism with a sense of audience and what that audience needs to feel a sense of satisfaction when leaving the theater. There are no surprises, there is no topic to stir conversation, there is simply a story that we all know and when this kind of movie is done right it also has that flair that reassures us we are doing pretty well in leading our day to day lives. This may sound like I might be over thinking a simple road trip comedy that is intended for nothing more than a little extra laughter around the holidays, a film that can be put on at any time of year and everyone approve, but this needs to be said because despite The Guilt Trip falling into all of these categories quite neatly it has that little something extra that pushes it past all the expectations anyone who dismisses the generic poster might have. One may sit down with the perception that this will be an indulgence in mindless entertainment but by the time the credits come around and you are sitting there with the surprised feeling of emotional connection, something a little more than simple contentment, you come to appreciate the work put into crafting a film that follows the rules while being able to exceed the average. B

I probably enjoyed Broken City more than I should have. I don't really care though as it is a slickly made political drama that plays like a Lifetime soap with much, much better actors. Departing from his brothers side for the first time in their nearly twenty-year partnership, director Allen Hughes has chosen a script off the 2008 black list which is a list compiled of the so-called "best unproduced scripts in Hollywood". Hughes has also rounded up a very impressive cast as he not only has the white hot Mark Wahlberg in the lead but he also has Russell Crowe playing a dirty mayor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright and Kyle Chandler all in supporting roles that make you believe that at one time this was probably seen as a film not only with serious talent, but potential clout. How it ended up being left to the dumping grounds of January is a mystery as it isn't all that bad and in fact is a rather enjoyable piece of pulp and gritty adult drama. The story does get muddled in parts, some of what happens doesn't seem to exactly fit with other things that happen prior, but the overall affect the film has on you is one of genuine entertainment. It is like those films of yesteryear where you didn't know these people going into the film, you had no idea who they might be or what their motives were but as you get to know them you realize you've seen them before; but instead of adding a layer of familiarity to the film it adds a layer of reality. Granted, Broken City is set in the typical big city setting of New York and though I had somewhat higher expectations for the writing as I knew the status of the script I can't argue with the fact I was intrigued the entire time and the performances lend a helping hand that boost this film even further into the category of a solid thriller. C+

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