By: Mary Fran Bontempo

It takes a pretty good actor to make you forget that he’s insanely good-looking and just make you think he’s bat-sh*t crazy.

Bradley Cooper is a pretty good actor.

In his new film, Silver Linings Playbook, Cooper embodies the unhinged Pat Solitano, introduced to the audience as he ends an eight month stint in a mental institution. Pat found himself a “guest” of the place via a plea bargain, after he beat the crap out of his wife’s lover, coming upon the two in the shower in the home Pat and Nikki shared.

Now, Pat’s back living with his parents–sympathetic mom, Delores (excellent “mom” actress Jackie Weaver), and Philadelphia Eagles-obsessed, Pat, Sr. (the always spot-on Robert De Niro). Pat, Junior’s got his own obsession: He’s determined to reunite with his ex-wife and regain what he’s lost.

Of course, there is that pesky matter of a restraining order.

When Pat meets Tiffany (the perfectly cast Jennifer Lawrence), a young, damaged widow who’s lugging around her own gigantic set of baggage, things get even weirder. And it’s not always the “crazy” people who bring on the weird.

A cast of supporting players proves that sometimes, crazy is in the eye of the beholder, as Pat, Sr., with his endless OCD-like quirks and Ronnie, Pat, Junior’s best friend, who professes to be happy in his marriage but stage whispers his desperation to his friend at every opportunity, add their own brand of insanity to the mix. Oh, and there’s also a dance contest.

Silver Linings Playbook is, by turns, quirky, funny, touching and, despite the lunacy, entirely believable, especially if you happen to be from anywhere around Philly and know folks afflicted with Eagles fever. Philly and its suburbs play a starring role as well, and the area never looked better, even when we’re guests of the Solitano’s–not exactly Main-Liners.

Cooper’s wide-eyed wildness strikes just the right note, and it’s not until the end of the movie, once Pat’s on firmer footing, that you’re reminded how gorgeous Cooper is. By that point, though, you’re just happy Pat seems to be on a track away from a return trip to the nuthouse and moving towards his sliver lining. 

Silver Linings Playbook runs 122 minutes–the perfect 2 hour break from holiday shopping. And did I mention that Bradley Cooper is gorgeous?

Even when he is totally insane.