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November 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, which opens in just 16 theaters this weekend — it’s due to expand to about 500 next week — is receiving golden reviews from nearly all the major critics — the rare film that is praised as much for its performances as for its screenplay. Roger Ebert, in fact, remarks that it “is so good, it could almost be a terrific old classic,” and Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer calls it a “head-spinning wonder of a movie.” Manohla Dargis in the New York Times compares it with the “screwball comedies” of the 1990s with the same “zippy, at times breakneck pacing, rapidly fired zingers and physical comedy that, taken together, reflect the wild unpredictability of the greater world.” That’s an opinion shared by Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe, who writes: “Hollywood has gotten away from the serious comedies that once were among its specialties. … We’re so infrequently given the small, the intimate, the deathless, the funny that when we get a movie from Russell … our involuntary response is to love it desperately, apocalyptically, like it’s the last serious comedy on Earth. His new film is Silver Linings Playbook, and it’s at least the last and best such movie of the year.” The stars of the movie are doled out an equal portion of praise. Of Bradley Cooper, Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal writes: “You may well know Mr. Cooper from his huge commercial success in The Hangover, but nothing he’s done on screen until now has even hinted at the phenomenal performance he gives here.” Of Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, Kenneth Turan writes in the Los Angeles Times: “Though Lawrence has been memorable in films as diverse as Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games, it’s still the pleasantest of shocks to see how terrific she is here in a completely different kind of fiercely comic, completely charismatic performance.” And Ann Horniday in the Washington Post remarks that Robert De Niro “delivers his warmest, most astute performance in years.” Not all the reviews gush with such acclaim, however. Lou Lumenick in the New York Post confesses “a relatively low tolerance for movies that romanticize, much less trivialize, serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder — which here is laughed off as a somewhat charming quirk that’s easily managed with medication.” (He adds, however, that “because of Lawrence, I just can’t write off this movie.”) And Mick LaSalle, in the San Francisco Chronicle concludes that the movie “is more lightweight than lighthearted.” But he, too, adds: “Thanks to Lawrence, it does one good thing most movies don’t do. It actually gets better as it goes along.”

UPDATE: Silver Linings Playbook debuted strongly with $458,430 from 16 theaters this weekend — or an average of $28,652 per-location. The Weinstein Co. is employing a platform release schedule for it — expanding it to 400 theaters next weekend.