Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews
Joy | Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Ladd, Melissa Rivers, Elisabeth Röhm | Review
- Category: Judy Thorburn
- Published on 25 December 2015
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Directing from a script he co-wrote with Annie Mumolo (“Bridesmaids”), David O'Russell once again joins forces with his all star team from American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper (this is his fourth collaboration with Lawrence) and Robert DeNiro to deliver a story that is “partially” based on the rags to riches story of Joy Mangano, a Long Island divorced mother of two and her struggle to market her invention, The Miracle Mop.
Lawrence (who also worked with O'Russell on 2012's Silver Linings Playbook, for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress) brings her usual grit, determination and inner strength to the role of Joy Mangano, a single mother of two from a nutty, dysfunctional family, who is thrust into becoming the family matriarch and breadwinner.
Her Venezuelan born ex husband Tony (a likable Edgar Ramirez), an aspiring singer, who sees himself as the next Tom Jones, lives in her basement. Joy's father Rudy (DeNiro) runs an auto body shop with Joy helping him in his business by acting as his accountant. But, after he is thrown out by his latest girlfriend, with no place to go, he winds up moving in and sharing the basement digs with his former son in law. Joy's mother, Terry (Virginia Madsen), spends all of her time in bed watching soap operas. Grandma Mimi (Diane Ladd), who employs occasional voice over narration, also lives in the house and is the only one who encourages and sees something special in her granddaughter, knowing she is headed for success. Last but not least, there is Peggy (Elizabeth Rohm), Joy's bitter half sister from Rudy's first wife, who is very jealous of Joy.
From the the time she was a child, Joy always wanted to be in inventor (as shown in flashbacks) but that would have to wait some time before she would realize her dream. As an adult, she had to settle on working at an airline counter at the airport, a job that soon would be history. One day after cutting her hand on a piece of glass while wringing out a mop, she comes up with the idea of a mop that you can wring out without touching, by utilizing 300 feet of continuous cotton loops that can be thrown in the washing machine. Using her daughter's crayons to draw a rough design, Joy creates a prototype of the new mop. She then convinces her Dad's new girlfriend, Trudy (Isabella Rosallini), who inherited a fortune from her deceased husband, to invest in her invention and then uses her Dad's garage to manufacturer the mops. After discovering that she has trouble promoting and selling the mops on her own, Joy's ex, Tony, takes her to QVC, where she connects with a top executive at the network, Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) who winds up giving Joy her big break, selling the miracle mop on live TV.
When one of the top QVC salesmen screws up in a big way while introducing the mops to millions of viewers, Joy convinces Walker to let her go on camera and sell the product herself, since she, as a mother of two who cleans the house every day, knows about cleaning products and what these women she is selling to wants. As a result, sales go though the roof, and Joy goes on to make millions on the mop, but not before incurring setbacks involving betrayal, patent fraud, and embezzlement from shady manufacturers.
The entire supporting cast deliver fine performances and there is even a cameo appearance by Melissa Rivers, as her mother Joan, who crossed paths with Joy at QVC when the comedy legend was an on air celebrity spokesperson selling her own line of jewelry.
Joy is labeled a comedy, which I find problematic. For the most part, this is a drama. The quirky characters act as the source of comedic moments, but the humor creates an uneven tone that permeates the narrative. I would have preferred if the supporting characters were played straight (as in serious, not gay) and not eccentric.
Thankfully, Jennifer Lawrence anchors the film with yet another wonderful performance, in which she creates an inspirational portrait of a daring, strong willed woman, whose dream of being a successful inventor and entrepreneur came to fruition despite obstacles and conflicts encountered along the way. For women of all ages, she is a great example of female empowerment. So, in spite of its uneven tone, pace, and ludicrous moments, there is enough Joy to behold for me to recommend the film.