"Joy" is the third film collaboration between actress Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell. In the past they created "Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle". Those early efforts were mega-successes and resulted in good box office and numerous awards. "Joy" was anticipated to be a product which would have the same amount of success, but having viewed the film I beg to disagree. It is a joyless movie composed of a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive storyline, and the acting on display is not exceptional.
Joy Mangano (Lawrence) is seen at the start of the film to be a divorced woman raising her two children. Her mother (Virginia Madsen) and her grandmother (Diane Ladd) live with her and her children as well as her ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez). Shortly after the movie starts her father Rudy (Robert De Niro) moves back in with her, following a separation from his girlfriend. This chaotic state of affairs makes Joy appear more a victim than anything else. She is a smart woman with some ideas for inventions that could make her life better, but all of the people around her are sapping her energy and strength.
Eventually Joy does come up with the idea for a "miracle mop" she hopes to market. She seeks out her father's wealthy new lady friend (Isabella Rossellini) to provide financial backing for this invention. Her family members, her ex-husband and her best friend all have input into her decisions with this product, and again confusion reigns. This time it not only saps Joy's energy it also saps the entertainment aspects of the movie.
When you have actors of the calibre of De Niro, Madsen, Rossellini, Ladd and Bradley Cooper (who plays an HSN executive), you expect the movie to be on a higher level. It isn't. Not one of these people is particularly likeable in his/her role, and not one truly engages the audience. This has a lot to do with the screenplay which is also the work of David O Russell. Just about all of the supporting characters are portrayed as egocentric leeches.
Lawrence attempts to humanize her character in a variety of ways. At the start of the film she is spunky and quirky, then she becomes responsible and driven, and eventually ends up as cold and aloof. There are no transitions shown as to why her character changes. Joy Mangano ends up being a mysterious character who holds the key to the movie but never lets us see her true self.
The film is rated PG-13 for profanity.
David O Russell obviously thought the movie would be best if its story were to be presented in snippets. There could be quirky characters spread throughout Joy's life who would give the film flavor and uniqueness. But what he intended ends up being a mishmash of unfunny stories that alienate the audience and detract from Joy's success as a woman and as an entrepreneur.
As for Lawrence, she swings for the fences and misses. Thus there is no joy in "Joy" land for mighty JLaw has struck out.
I scored "Joy" a joyless 5 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper