Silver Linings Playbook, the new film from director David O. Russell (Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, The Fighter) is the kind of flick critics dig. The cast — Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver — is certainly solid. And the film has plenty going for it. It's a smart, often funny flick about two people who somehow click despite their deep differences. Yet something about Russell's script, which he based on a Matthew Quick seriocomic novel, just doesn't ring true.
At the film's start, the central character Patrick (Cooper) has just been released from the mental hospital where he was undergoing treatment after he beat up the schoolteacher having an affair with his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee). Pat adopts the mantra that there's some kind of silver lining in every tragedy, and he tells his dad (DeNiro) and mom (Weaver) that he's transformed.
But the guy's still incredibly manic, and so desperate to get back together with his ex-wife (who has a restraining order on him, by the way), that'll he do just about anything. And that includes entering a dance contest with his neighbor's recently widowed sister, Tiffany (Lawrence), who promises to pass the notes he writes on to Nikki. It's a flimsy plot device designed to set up the film's climax — a dance competition in which Pat thinks Nikki will see how much he's changed and gotten in touch with his true feelings.
Cooper turns in a good performance as an unstable guy who could fly off the handle at any moment. Lawrence is great as well; the Hunger Games star continues to show her incredible range. And Weaver gives a very understated performance as Pat's sympathetic and understanding mother. But some of the scenes surrounding the family's obsessive love for the Philadelphia Eagles seem forced. And the same goes for the often stilted dialogue. The 120-minute run time could have probably been trimmed by at least 10 to 15 minutes as well.