Silver Linings Playbook goes through the motions of a typical romantic comedy, but realistic drama and great performances make it an entertaining and offbeat dramedy.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything — his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet-and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives. — (C) Weinstein

The film is a balanced mix of  the light-hearted humor of romantic comedies with the realistic drama about mental illness. It deals with issues of mental illness head on, creating a true dramedy. I say true because typically romantic comedies use drama as a contrived conflict.

The banter between two misfits who have no filter – a self-deluded guy with bi-polar and a unabashedly forward widow dealing with depression – is witty and hilarious. There’s also a family subplot that adds another realistic, warm and funny layer to the familiar story.

Bradley Cooper delivers a surprisingly good performance. His character could have easily come off as a jerk – Pat constantly preaches about optimism but he’s in-denial of the reality of his marriage. But Cooper manages to make him likeable and walks the thin line between the annoying asshole and the amusing train wreck.

Jennifer Lawrence is remarkable, giving an edge to the staple manic pixie dream girl that is usually paired with the crazy white male protagonist.

Robert De Niro is great as the superstitious Father and Football bookie who is also delusional in his own way. He insists on the existence of a “juju” and relies on random good luck charms which he firmly believes help the Philadelphia Eagles, and consequently him, to win.

As standard romantic comedies go, the plot is conventional. The ending is predictable and contrived.  Still, Silver Linings Playbook used all the good storytelling opportunities that Garden State squandered.

Both movies have two crazy misfits who meet when the guy comes back to his hometown and fall in love. But Garden State was too preoccupied with telling the pointless struggle of an upper middle class white guy, wherein the lead spends most of his time looking dazed in artsy set pieces.

On the other hand, The Silver Linings Playbook is a funny, realistic, and infectiously optimistic love story. It’s about two misfits who got lost but found solace in the lunacy of a kindred soul, showing us that even crazy mentally unstable people can find their own happiness.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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