Monday, February 11, 2013

I believe in happy endings

A few weeks ago deciding we should take advantage of the fact that he had a rare day off, Boyfriend+ and I decided to spend the day in the city. I go in regularly for work, but I never get to just hang out. After lunch we wandered over to The Strand because, I mean, it's right there. I was looking for a Butler book (specifically Fledgling) but no one seems to appreciate how awesome she is, so the only copy they had was Kindred. Boyfriend+ noticed a copy of The Silver Linings Playbook and, remembering Alice raving about it, I decided I should give it a try. We decided it was too cold to keep wandering around so we ended up going to a movie. And what movie did we decide to see? Silver Linings Playbook, obviously. Normally I like to read the book first, but it's not that big of a deal to me.

I really liked the movie. It's excellent, JLaw is excellent, and even Bradly Cooper (who I'm very meh about) is excellent. Because I enjoyed the movie so much and read the book not long after, I can't separate my review of the book and the movie. They're similar enough that it's obviously the same story, but different enough I can see how the movie was heavily adapted from the book. The characters are different in the movie, which means they react differently to things than they do in the book. And (I'm sorry Alice) but I preferred the movie.

I don't know if I preferred the movie BECAUSE I saw it first or because it's better. Unless I get a case of soap opera amnesia and decide instead of trying to get my memory back I should read The Silver Linings Playbook I'm never going to know for sure. Just keep this in mind as I go through the review.

So. The book is a man named Pat Peoples who's been in a mental health facility for some time, but has recently been released to his parents. While in "the bad place" he came up with the theory that his life is a movie and part of the movie means he has to improve himself (physically, mentally, emotionally) so he can reunite with his estranged wife. As soon as "apart time" is over and he returns to Nikki, he can get his happy ending. But when he's home no one will talk to him about Nikki. All of their wedding pictures are missing and his mother told him they were stolen because the frames were so nice. (All of the other pictures are still there because they were able to be replaced. Not the wedding photos though.) His father will hardly speak to him, not even when they're watching the Eagles play. He has his brother Jake and his best friend Ronnie talk to him, although not about Nikki or how long he was at the hospital. There's also his therapist and fellow Eagles fan Cliff. And Tiffany, Ronnie's sister-in-law. Tiffany is having her own problems after her husband's death and is scouting Pat for...something.

The book is funny and sweet and charming and bittersweet. Pat is back home and trying to make sense of his world and of course, get his happy ending. But he was in "the bad place" for a reason, even if he can't remember why. This isn't to say he doesn't deserve a happy endings, he is a good guy, but it means the journey is going to be difficult. And Tiffany complicates things.

Pat has no desire to be set up with anyone. He's still married and his happy ending involves him getting back with Nikki. Not that Tiffany seems to want him. She follows him on his jogs (even when he yells at her to leave) but she hardly speaks to him.

The biggest reason I preferred the movie to the book is Pat. In the book, he's simple. As I mentioned above, he refers to the mental health facility as "the bad place" and the fact that he isn't allowed to contact Nikki as "apart time". He orders a bowl of cereal at a diner, pays for it with 2 $20s, and tells the waitress to keep the change, because Nikki liked big tippers. He (at least initially) believes his mother's story about his wedding photos being stolen. I prefer the movie version of Pat, who is just as optimistic as book Pat not as simple. He's just as certain he and Nikki will end up together, but he doesn't refer to their current separation as "apart time". He says whatever comes into his head, appropriate or not, but he knows he shouldn't. Movie Pat has mental health problems he deserved to spend time in the mental health facility, but that doesn't mean he's slow.

I liked the book. But I preferred the movie. And because I saw/read them so close to one another, I couldn't help comparing the book to the movie the whole time I was reading it. Perhaps I'll give the book a try in a few years, when the memory of the movie has faded and see what I think. Of course I may end up buying a copy of the movie, so perhaps that will always be my definitive version.

Title quote from page 15

Quick, Matthew. The Silver Linings Playbook. Sarah Crichton Books, 2008.