Silver Linings Playbook is a remarkable movie. David O. Russell has created a fully-realized, wonderful world full of honest characters and real problems, yet at the same time it celebrates life in all its quirky ways while recognizing what makes movies special.

Rarely has a film been able to follow the basic structure of a romantic comedy-drama, while exceeding expectations at every turn; embracing the cliché yet staying true to the characters and story. While the story structure may be familiar, the execution is anything but. Powerful performances and keen direction aside, it’s the characters and their issues which shine, as the emotion of the characters is front and center in a film that’s equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching.

Based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook tells the story of Pat Solitano (Cooper) as he is let out of mental institution after an eight-month stay for a violent crime. We meet Pat as he’s trying to pick back up his life and marriage, living with his Philadelphia Eagles-loving father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver). Pat’s lost weight and has a new, positive mindset in life – seeking the silver lining in everything.

Determined to win back his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), Pat dedicates his time to this sole purpose. Yet when he attends a dinner with his friends, Veronica (Julia Stiles) and Ronnie (John Ortiz), he unexpectedly meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), Veronica’s sister. Tiffany is just as damaged as Pat, and Jennifer Lawrence injects light, warmth and power into the film with her performance. Lawrence has had more than her fair share of success in the past few years, first with an Oscar-nomination for Winter’s Bone, and of course her more mainstream roles in films such as The Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class, but it’s here where she’s most mature, utterly in control of a character who is anything but.

Just as Tiffany is consistently teetering on the edge, so is the film. David O. Russell operates on the brink of chaos; a perfect blend of wit, heartbreak, joy, despair, and every emotion in between. As adept as Silver Linings Playbook is from a story standpoint, the film is also as visually groundbreaking as many of Russell’s past films. He never frames a shot quite right, consistently shifting the camera in new and exciting ways, getting to the emotional core of each scene in the process.

Despite a rather telegraphed final act, Silver Linings Playbook is continually authentic in its characters’ stories. While at times cliché, David O. Russell understands how to navigate around this as both a writer and a director. Russell is the maestro of each scene, perfectly blending the unexpected wit and emotion of its characters, while recognizing the appeal and comfort of telling a story that is ultimately uplifting.

As if two Oscar-worthy performances from Cooper and Lawrence wasn’t enough, De Niro gives his most powerful performance in some time, with one particularly emotional turn which gets right to the core of what makes Silver Linings Playbook so powerful: a balance of the uplifting and the emotional. Jacki Weaver holds her own opposite De Niro as she proves her Oscar-nominated turn in Animal Kingdom was no fluke. Even Chris Tucker gives a solid performance as Pat’s friend from the institution, Danny.

Fully embodying all the humor, sadness, anger, and love of its characters, Silver Linings Playbook is that rare breed of film that is laid out as a quintessential romantic comedy-drama, while subverting the rote expectations of a typical romantic comedy. With an absolutely stunning, hilarious, soul-wrenching cast, led wonderfully by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and the virtuosic direction of David O. Russell, you’ll be moved, entranced, and delighted throughout.

Grade: A+

Rated: R (for language and some sexual content/nudity)

Silver Linings Playbook opens in theaters on November 21, 2012.

Your wish is Marvel’s command. Fans have wanted to see a live-action Squirrel Girl adaptation, and it looks like it might actually happen thanks to New Warriors.

If you don’t know who Squirrel Girl is, do yourself a favor and look her up. Her name is Doreen Green and, shockingly, she can talk to squirrels. (Who would’ve guessed?) But it doesn’t stop there! She’s also got super strength and speed.

Fans have been fantasy casting the role for a while, but when Anna Kendrick said she wanted to play the character, the internet went wild.

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Your wish is Marvel’s command. Fans have wanted to see a live-action Squirrel Girl adaptation, and it looks like it might actually happen thanks to New Warriors.

If you don’t know who Squirrel Girl is, do yourself a favor and look her up. Her name is Doreen Green and, shockingly, she can talk to squirrels. (Who would’ve guessed?) But it doesn’t stop there! She’s also got super strength and speed.

Fans have been fantasy casting the role for a while, but when Anna Kendrick said she wanted to play the character, the internet went wild.

Shannon Purser has also declared her interest in the role. You’ll know her as Barb from Stranger Things, but she’s also just been added to Riverdale.

Before we can start casting, however, we need a show, and according to TV Line, that show is New Warriors.

Marvel and ABC Studios are currently shopping the project around, which would be a half-hour comedy based on the character. One of the tell-tale signs of a Squirrel Girl story line is its lighthearted and humorous nature, so this sounds like a perfect fit.

TV Line reports that the show is being described as “the junior version of The Avengers,” and that “the New Warriors are a superhero squad made up of teenagers.”

Marvel has, of course, brought plenty of its characters to the small screen and to great success. There’s even a chance that this project could be tied to some of the Netflix properties, as Doreen acts as a nanny to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter, Danielle, in the comic books.

Just think about that crossover potential.

Are you looking forward to this ‘New Warriors’ show if it stars Squirrel Girl?

Shannon Purser plays fan-favorite character Barb on Stranger Things and now she’s joining a new project on The CW.

A lot of people instantly fell in love with Barb the moment she graced our screens in the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, and who can blame them? She was cool, confident, and not at all worried about what the popular kids thought of her.

Then the Demogorgon arrived. But that’s a tale for another day.

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Shannon Purser plays fan-favorite character Barb on Stranger Things and now she’s joining a new project on The CW.

A lot of people instantly fell in love with Barb the moment she graced our screens in the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, and who can blame them? She was cool, confident, and not at all worried about what the popular kids thought of her.

Then the Demogorgon arrived. But that’s a tale for another day.

EW is now reporting that Purser has joined Riverdale, the television show based on the Archie comics.

Purser will be portraying Ethel Muggs for at least three episodes.

Don’t expect her to follow in the footsteps of her comic book equivalent, however. Ethel may have a crush on Jughead in the source material, but EW is reporting that she’ll have her heart set on someone else.

Ethel will also be teaming up with Veronica and Betty as they set out to get revenge on Reggie Mantle, Archie’s nemesis.

In July, we brought you our thoughts on the Riverdale pilot after we saw it at San Diego Comic-Con. It’ll be premiering midseason next winter on the CW and provides a darker spin on the original Archie characters as they become wrapped up in a murder mystery.

Though the pilot has already been shot, the remaining 12 episodes have yet to be filmed. Production on the rest of the season will begin in early September, and the show is expected to premiere in early 2017, barring any complications.

Are you looking forward to seeing Shannon Purser on ‘Riverdale’?

The Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas, Dwayne The Rock Johnson-led Jumanji sequel/reboot/whatever has completed its family with the addition of Karen Gilan.

In a Facebook post on Monday, The Rock announced that the Doctor Who alum will be joining Jumanji 2 and rounding out the cast. The Rock bills her character as having “the most important role in our movie.”

“We had to find a girl,” The Rock wrote of casting Gillan in Jumanji 2, “but not just any girl.” He continued:

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The Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas, Dwayne The Rock Johnson-led Jumanji sequel/reboot/whatever has completed its family with the addition of Karen Gilan.

In a Facebook post on Monday, The Rock announced that the Doctor Who alum will be joining Jumanji 2 and rounding out the cast. The Rock bills her character as having “the most important role in our movie.”

“We had to find a girl,” The Rock wrote of casting Gillan in Jumanji 2, “but not just any girl.” He continued:

A girl who has “Chutzpah”. Guts and talent to stand her ground and hold her own against Nick’s cool rockstar ways, Jack’s relentless energy and genius, Kevin’s masterful timing and skills and the big, brown, bald tattooed guy who just simply stands there and oooooozes smoldering, captivating, sizzling, can’t take your eyes off this brilliant manly man… never mind I got drunk on the ol’ DJ kool aid again.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce a girl who’s playing the most important role in our movie – the talented, beautiful and down for a Scottish fight at any time, Ms. Karen Gillan.

And yes, this is the girl who is so bad ass she shaved her freaking head for Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Rock goes on to promise that “this isn’t a remake or a reboot, but a continuation of the awesome Jumanji story we love.”

Filming begins next month in Hawaii and is slated to hit theaters next year.

Gillan is best known for her role as Amy Pond in Doctor Who and, as The Rock notes, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

original-jumanji-movie

The Jumanji “continuation” has been met with lots of skepticism since the original was led by the late Robin Williams. It just seems like an unnecessary, unoriginal idea.