And if it's me reading the signs, it's waaaay overwritten.
I really wanted to like this movie more. There's a lot going for it. Although I've been accused of not liking romantic films (and I'll admit they're not exactly my cup of tea) I do appreciate them. Especially a good crazy-meets-crazy romantic dramedy (BENNY & JOON is still a classic to me.) And the leads--Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence--are plenty appealing. Bradley plays a guy who just got released from a mental hospital, after he caught his wife cheating and flipped out a bit (the fact that he was undiagnosed bi-polar just made things worse.) Jennifer plays the little sister of his best friend's wife, a widow who has psychological issues of his own. He's still trying to get back with his wife (despite a restraining order) even though she's just perfect for him. And the supporting cast is so high caliber it includes Robert De Niro as his Eagles-obsessed bookie father with his own anger issues.
So why didn't it work for me? Let me explain the inside joke in the first line. I've given enough spoilers already, so highlight to read more [SPOILER WARNING] A large part of the plot revolves around Bradley Cooper's character trying to get a letter to his wife (illegal, what with the restraining order and all.) Jennifer Lawrence's character agrees to help him, in exchange for him being her partner in a dance contest. Well, he hands off the letter and a few days later she brings him a reply. First clue his wife didn't write it (other than that's obviously what the plot called for)--it's typed instead of hand written. But there's the conspicuous phrase, "if it's me reading the stars..." in the letter. Later, they have a confrontation with his whole family where she defends him spending time with her rather than watching the Eagles (his dad has this superstition that he's a good luck charm for the team.) Not once, but twice she uses the phrase, "if it's me reading the stars," as if it wouldn't be obvious enough the first time. Then, just to drive it home, there's a scene where he steps outside and re-reads the reply letter. I got it the first time (and I assume he would've, too. He's crazy, not stupid!) you don't have to repeat it. And that's just one of the more glaring examples. And it all just bugged me. It's not even so much that it took me out of the moment and made me notice I was watching a very distinctly written movie, it's that it made me realize I was reading something written by someone who doesn't think much of the intelligence of his characters...or his audience. [END SPOILER.]
But then, it has a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so what the hell do I know?
Running Time: 122 minutes
My Total Minutes: 308,192