Silver Linings Playbook

Directed By: David O. Russell

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Julia Stiles, and Chris Tucker

"You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining."
-Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper)

Two years ago, director David O. Russell rocked my world with The Fighter.  In my opinion, it may be the best boxing movie in the last three decades.  When I heard about Russell's next project Silver Linings Playbook and that it revolved around two people with serious mental issues, he had my attention.  As you all know, I love movies about crazy people.  He got my attention a little more when I learned of the film's cast — Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Chris Tucker.  With a great director and some of my favorite actors, all I could see was a silver lining.  Happily, I was right.

Pat Solitano (Cooper) has been committed to a mental health facility in Baltimore after a domestic violence incident involving his wife Nikki (Brea Bee) and the history teacher from the school at which she works.  Pat found them in the shower making love to his wedding song and he snapped.  For the past eight months, he's had the pleasure of reflecting on this horrific day in a facility in Baltimore.  Today, his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) has decided to take him out of the institution with the court's support and take him back home to Philadelphia where he can get back to some semblance of normalcy and cope with his bipolar disorder.  To the surprise of his Eagles-loving father Pat Sr. (De Niro), Pat is home to live with them.

Pat may not be ready to be thrown back into civilization because he's obsessed with rebuilding his marriage with a woman who cheated on him and has not spoken to him for the better part of a year.  At nights, he wakes his parents up about the most random things such as his discontent with Ernest Hemingway’s unhappy endings.  He even still has trouble remaining calm when he hears his wedding song, Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour".  All in all, Pat is having trouble becoming a functional member of society again.  Then, he meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a young widow who could not handle the death of her husband Tommy.  With her, Mr. Excelsior finds his silver lining.

Silver Linings Playbook might just be the best damn movie I've seen all year.  David O. Russell has done it again.  He's assembled an extremely talented cast and put together a movie event with universal appeal.  It's a quirky, touching romance with great performances from all the cast, lots of huge laughs for the whole family, and one great happy ending.   This endlessly charming film is the "feel good" movie of the year.

As Pat Solitano, Bradley Cooper has stepped into a different class of acting. Given Pat's mental issues, his marital situation, and his current living arrangements, this is a complex, meaty character for him to tackle and really show his prowess as an actor.  As this bipolar wreck that jogs wearing a trash bag, he impressively displays a wide range of emotions and portrays a character with many sides to his personality.  After all, this is a guy who gets enraged when he hears "My Cherie Amour", the most peaceful song in the world.  Cooper's great performance goes a long way in proving that he is not just a comedic actor who can crack you up in films like The Hangover.  This guy has some serious talent, and it’s on full display in Silver Linings Playbook.

Jennifer Lawrence continues to amaze me.  Just a year ago, she was playing minor roles in films such as X-Men: First Class and Like Crazy.  This year, she's already established a mega blockbuster franchise in The Hunger Games and found a little horror in House at the End of the Street.  Now, she's going for some awards gold with Silver Linings Playbook.  It’s the year of Jennifer Lawrence.  As Tiffany, she brings a fun, warm energy to the film that balances everything else out.  She's crazy, but crazy in a good way.  At the same time, she can authoritatively take command of the screen at will.  For instance, she does the impossible and stops Robert De Niro dead in his tracks before going on one of his monologues.  Lawrence has got an incredible career ahead of her, and her performance here is just part of the first chapter of it.

The supporting cast does a great job as well.  The legend we all know and love is out to play.  Robert De Niro brings a wily, feisty spirit to the film in his second teaming with his Limitless co-star Bradley Cooper.  As an aspiring restaurant owner and a bookie obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles’ "juju", De Niro gives one of his best performances in quite some time.  The legendary actor brings his A-game.  As Pat's friend and fellow patient Danny, Chris Tucker steps back out on the big screen for the first time in five years.  The comedian certainly has still got some gas left in the tank.  He keeps the laughs coming whenever he manages to escape Baltimore and find his way to Philadelphia to see his good friend Pat.  As his hilarious performance suggests, we need to see more of him on the big screen.

Silver Linings Playbook is an awesome film full of great performances.  With lots of comedy, plenty of drama, and a touch of romance, this film satisfies in every way imaginable.  Director David O. Russell and his cast are firing on all cylinders in this one.  This is the movie event of the holiday season.  Silver Linings Playbook gets a sober rating.  Find your way to a movie theater to catch this great film!