A comedy-drama with spirit and great acting, tripping over itself by failing to look where it is going
Robert De Niro's character couldn't have been played by anyone else, as the father who prefers to watch football, taping every single game which I found a quirky little hobby and extremely amusing. He has the ability to play someone who has the strength to maintain family conflicts, surprisingly not cracking under the pressure when giving his son advice, but being an amusing and sweetly endearing father. He also has that particular look about him which gives him the advantage.
The chemistry I cannot deny - the relations with people in the neighbourhood, friends and family - whether they are strained, they are dealt with comfortably in plenty of time. Whoever they meet always have their chance of screen time and never fail to provide enjoyment. Their conversations are always bright and funny, hearing the echo of laughter within the screen whenever a certain line was said.
The drama and comedy combination can often be a bit of a struggle as there can be an awkward change between these two themes, feeling clunky and clichéd. Surprisingly, this managed to simultaneously create these moods, each with a tinge of sadness and laughter. The change was neither rushed nor clunky either, as you could often take what they were doing seriously enough as well as finding a little humour in it in their situation.
However, although I found it good, despite the colourful characters and amusements, there lurked deep in it a sense of serious flaws. The ending left me speechless, but not with happiness. It wasn't a cliffhanger, neither did it leave a little mystery under it, nor actually had any hard work gone into ending this off in a spectacular way. If it was trying to be something that was different from similar ones, it certainly felt clichéd and tacked on, like the usual Hollywood ending. They were better off before they became a couple.
Now, as I previously mentioned, the acting was superb and the melding of the comedy and drama was almost perfect. Cooper and Lawrence can't be denied as wonderful actors who manage to have great chemistry in this film. In fact, they are two of the best duos of this year that I could go as far to say. But the connection between each scene did not gel and switched pretty rapidly. I said the comedy and drama was well done, but each scene was not done with grace like the themes. I never got the chance to ask questions, which you can never do in films, but to myself, I did. What happened to Pat's illness? How was that dealt with? Why did the immediate skip to him explaining himself briefly to Tiffany at the end, after which they were then suddenly seen snuggling on a chair, solve everything? I know you cannot deal with everything in a film, but they skipped large vital chunks that could have helped me understand it more. There were just so many unanswered questions by the time I left the cinema.
With the lack of grace that it was dealt with, I'm not entirely sure if the themes of overcoming problems and mental illness were treated properly. Sure, there was a hint of drama and amusement in watching Pat go berserk while searching for his wedding video, but it kind of faded away after that. Suddenly Pat and Tiffany start dancing and Pat Sr. talks about football and can't understand what his son is up to. I'm sure the direction this was going left many people bemused and wondering if it is was going anywhere at all. I myself thought that the director decided to be too clever and actually manage to continually let it trip over its feet after staring at the sky for too long, due to feeling overconfident that by looking clever with 'overcoming problems' alongside 'mental illness' would actually help.
Overall, this is a very entertaining film. I was certainly amused but also touched at the same time. It was in high spirits and did try as best it could throughout. The acting was almost perfect and the characters colourful. I just wish that it would stop tripping up and looking so confident tackling this kind of theme. The director certainly felt clever making this film, but I think he was naive in realising he did miss out the vital parts.