Written and Directed by David O. Russell, based on the novel
By Matthew Quick
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver, Chris Tucker

This was a movie I was prepared to like. A good romantic comedy is a rare thing and the reviews pretty much assured me I would love it. I didn’t.

PLOT: Pat (Cooper) has just been released from a mental hospital in Philadelphia and he charges back into his former life with the battle cry of Excelsior to guide him. His primary goal is to win back his wife, who issued a restraining order after he attacked her lover in their shower. His parents (De Niro and Weaver) are supportive if concerned. There is a kindly doctor who begins his treatment with an awful trick. There is also a friend, the friend’s wife, a shrink, a bookie, a brother, a friend from the hospital (Tucker) and so on. None of this large cast gets much development except for the woman his friend introduces him to: Tiffany (Lawrence). After a brief interchange, Tiffany trades getting a note from Pat to his wife for Pat entering a dance contest with her. I am sure you will guess where this is going.

In the several hundred page novel by Matthew Quick, the Indian shrink, the Eagles fans, the friend from the hospital, the bookie probably come to life since there is more than seconds spent on developing them. You probably come to understand the OCD behavior of Pat’s father and how his mother deals with it. You may even get a diagnosis of what ails Tiffany. Here it’s as if a dozen balls are up in the air and landing one by one with a clunk. The humor was always queasy for me since much of it plays off of the behavior of disturbed people. De Niro seemed pleased to be in the film but his eyes looked much too intelligent for what comes out of his mouth. He is warm and fuzzy throughout the film, but I think we are expected to intuit he was not like this in the past. I missed the sort of meaty role Weaver had in ANIMAL KINGDOM. Here you can see making her face slack to appear softer, less smart. Lawrence is fine as Tiffany if awfully young to be a widow. Cooper is adequate if no more.

The final half-hour feels especially forced, even ghastly, with every character so much as mentioned in the film showing up at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel. I won’t even comment on the dance contest or why Tiffany ever expected to be competitive. I guess the Eagles can beat the Cowboys because they did it last night, but the rest of the ending needed more than a cry of Excelsior for success.

Be sure to stop by to check out Forgotten Books every Friday as well as other thoughts, comments and reviews. A collection of her stories, Monkey Justice (Snubnose Press) can be found on Amazon