Based on a novel by local author Matthew Quick, the locally shot Silver Linings Playbook mixes the style of David O. Russell’s The Fighter with the antic performance style of I Heart Huckabees, a combination designed to leave viewers as crazed as Bradley Cooper’s unhinged lead.
On provisional release from a mental hospital after administering a beatdown to his estranged wife’s lover, Cooper moves back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert De Niro), the latter a fanatical Eagles fan with the bookmaker’s debt to prove it. Cooper’s jittery mannerisms quickly wear thin, but he’s balanced by a policeman’s widow (Jennifer Lawrence) whose no-nonsense bluntness brings him back to Earth. The movie settles into a well-worn rut once the two start training for a ballroom-dance contest, cruising toward a resolution it never earns, but it tries so hard to please it almost can’t help but succeed. It’s clever and cute and never lets you forget it, and winning in spite of how much it insists on it.