The best Eagles movie debate part 2: Silver Linings Playbook

Jim Johnson
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles helmet sits on a cart during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagle on December 22, 2019, at Lincoln Financial Filed in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

NFL franchises aren’t commonly featured in Hollywood movies, but the Philadelphia Eagles have gotten more exposure on the big screen than almost all of their opponents. From Invincible to Silver Linings Playbook and even that bizarrely phrased Tony Danza movie The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon, Philadelphia fans have gotten more than 15 minutes of fame.

What is the best major Hollywood movie to represent the Philadelphia Eagles?

Philly Sports Network will make a case for both Invincible and Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook: The Good

Matthew Quick released the novel Silver Linings Playbook in 2008. His central character, Pat Peoples, is a die-hard Eagles fan who tries desperately to cope with mental health issues. The 2012 movie version of the story featured Abington, PA native Bradley Cooper as Pat and Jennifer Lawrence as his neighbor Tiffany.

The portrayal of the common Philadelphia area family endears the film to Eagles fans. Pat is a superfan who wears a DeSean Jackson jersey to a dinner party and attends tailgates with his brother Jake. Robert De Niro’s character, Pat Sr., is the archetype of a local bookie who takes superstition to new heights. Pat encapsulates the family vibe of a typical fall Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia. 

“I love Sundays. I live for Sundays. The whole family’s together. Mom makes braciole. Dad puts the jersey on. We’re all watching the game.”

Watching the Birds is about more than football. It’s a family tradition passed through generations by the most dedicated and passionate sports fans in the world, which became very obvious after Super Bowl LII when countless fans prayed to deceased relatives who also deserved to celebrate the victory.   

Pat’s therapist summarizes the community aspect of Eagles fandom when the two unexpectedly run into each other at the Eagles tailgate.

“Today, I’m your brother in green, not your therapist.”

In a world full of chaos and confusion, cheering for your favorite football team can sometimes seem like the only constant. No fictional character demonstrates that idea better than Pat.

The movie’s local flavor appeals especially to residents of Delaware County. Llanerch Diner, Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast High School, and the Lansdowne Theatre are among the local landmarks featured in the film. The scenes outside of Lincoln Financial Field also capture the atmosphere of Eagles tailgates impressively.

Silver Linings Playbook: The Bad

Invincible centers around Vince Papale, a former Eagles wide receiver and special teamer. Some of its most important scenes occur on the gridiron. Silver Linings Playbook never shows real game action. The mental health theme is brilliantly put together, but it appeals to a different audience within the Philadelphia fandom.

The superstition of Pat’s father and the solace Pat finds from jogging through his neighborhood were excellent elements of the film. However, they shouldn’t have been combined. Part of the superstition is the timing of Pat’s runs during Eagles games, which wouldn’t be the case for a real-life fan. Hollywood has to play to plot convenience for at least some things.

Verdict: A-

Invincible is understandably much easier to associate with the Eagles. Silver Linings Playbook is not an A or an A+ as it relates to Eagles fandom because it is not specifically about football. 

But were we really going to pick Mark Wahlberg, a New England native, over local product Bradley Cooper?

Silver Linings Playbook authentically aligns with enough elements of the lifestyle in Philadelphia and/or Delaware County and how residents obsess over their favorite football team. While the game action isn’t present, the spirit of Eagles fandom portrayed in the film is spot on.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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