MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by David O. Russell. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Dianne Ladd
Joy is a movie that air quotes were made for. It’s a film loosely based on the story of Joy Mangano (Lawrence), inventor of The Miracle Mop and dozens of other useful household inventions. Like one of her products on HSN (Joy’s current business partner) or QVC (featured in this film), the movie promises more satisfaction than it can deliver.
For starters, Director-co-writer Russell never claims that this is a biopic at all, but is rather inspired by the life of Mangano as well as other women who were able to change their lives for the better. It is unapologetically feminist to the core, and there is no love interest created to get in the way of telling Joy’s story.
Fair enough. But, if that is the case, why is this movie so slipshod in its construction? Too many of the film’s critical events occur off-screen and plot complications seem to come out of left field. Since Joy is a character who constantly has to think on her feet, this may be a deliberate choice of the filmmakers to keep the audience in sympathy with Joy’s dilemmas. Nevertheless, this becomes a major irritant over the course of a two-hour film.
The movie is not without its moments of pleasure. The extended middle-class family that becomes a part of Joy’s story includes not only Joy and her two daughters but an ex-husband (Edgar Ramírez) who still lives with them and hangs out in the basement, a bedfast mother (Virginia Madsen) who watches soap operas, a divorced dad (Robert DeNiro) with a wealthy woman friend (Isabella Rossellini), a conflicted relationship with a half-sister (Elisabeth Röhm), and a trusted friend from childhood (Dascha Polanco). Everyone wants to get involved in Joy’s life as an entrepreneur but, in the process, often create many problems.
Bradley Cooper arrives about halfway into the film as an upbeat producer at QVC who gives Joy an opportunity to sell her Miracle Mop on the air. He and Lawrence have a natural chemistry and their scenes are a lot of fun.
I really wanted to like this film more – and might have been swayed over to becoming a mild defender of the movie – if a corny finale hadn’t come along to push Joy into the Redbox Rental Zone.
But there is good news on the horizon. HSN will be introducing an improved Miracle Mop on January 3, 2016. Operators will be waiting to receive your calls.
Two halos: An impressive star turn from Jennifer Lawrence is not enough to save a sloppy narrative structure.
Two pitchforks: Some swearing; disrespectful and underhanded behavior.
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This is a movie without much "joy" in it. The trailer gives a completely different promise of what the movie is like and about.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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