I'm typically not one for romantic dramedies, but went to see 'Silver Linings Playbook' on the recommendation of my friend Penny. Ecclectic director David O. Russell, whose previous efforts include 'Flirting with Disaster,' 'Three Kings' and 'The Fighter,' adapted a novel by Matthew Quick into an endearing, rousing crowd-pleaser that is as irresistable as its characters are quirky.
In SLP Bradley Cooper proved once again he's a bona-fide A-list star. Even more than Vince Vaughn, Paul Rudd and James Franco, he excels in playing the lovable douche we first saw in 'The Hangover,' the slacker dude who eventually wins you over on the strengths of his charms, charisma, and winning smile. Cooper delivered an Oscar-caliber performance as Pat Solitano, a teacher with bipolar disorder and OCD who was institutionalized for eight months for beating another teacher nearly to death in a fit of rage (although you can certainly appreciate the mitigating circumstances). Upon his release, he's at such a low point in his life that he's living with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver) and trying to piece his life back together, the key of which was his plan to reconcile with his wife. Things get complicated when by crazy, stupid chance he meets the sister of his best friend's wife, Tiffany ('The Hunger Games' Jennifer Lawrence in another Oscar-worthy performance after 'Winter's Bone'), who may be even more of a screwed-up whackjob than he is.
What makes SLP such a joy to watch is the quirkiness and likeability of its characters, not just Pat and Tiffany but his Philadelphia Eagles-loving dad (De Niro), doting mom (Weaver) and Danny (a friend of his from the mental institution played by Chris Tucker). Cooper and Lawrence had electric on-screen chemistry, even when they at first couldn't stand each other. But as time goes on and they find a unique bond in their shared neuroses, as dysfunctional and pathetic Pat and Tiffany may be, you can't help but cheer and root for these kindred spirits because they are such psychotically fascinating crazy people.