Quick Hit: Coming across as completely unnecessary, this film stars the David O. Russell trio once more as they try to keep the movie relevant.
There’s a moment in Joy where our title heroine, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence), enters the QVC studio and is immediately swept into the swirling television world, which is all being explained elegantly by a studio magnate (Bradley Cooper). It’s the best scene in the movie, which Russell’s movie cameras doing half the work, and Lawrence and Cooper doing the rest. It’s filled with energy and excitement and emotion, which are what I like to call the Three “E”s. If a movie can consistently provide them, the movie will usually be above average. Here, this is unfortunately the only scene that provides the three of them.
The movie is incredibly blunt with its metaphors. We are constantly seeing Joy against a silhouette of soap operas, movie sets, and stylized memories. It’s obvious that this is meant to construe the fact that Joy does not have a perfect life, but man could we try and be a bit more subtle?
Lawrence, as usual, does the heavy lifting throughout the film. She is allowed her classic freak out moment, where she stares off into space (which she does better than anyone in the biz), but unfortunately it comes during what seems like an Infomercial – a woman surrounded by her oblivious family performances a menial task that is stupid beyond belief – WRINGING OUT A MOP WITH GLASS IN IT. This is supposedly how Joy comes up with the idea for the Miracle Mop, but did it really have to make it seem so cheesy?
The other actors in the movie come and go and seem like straw men from the moment they come on screen – DeNiro screams and throws things, Joy’s mother sits behind huge glasses to yell and do gross things, and Joy’s ex-husband comes across as well-meaning but dumb. It’s almost as if Russell tried to import his greatest hits from recent years, and instead came up with a half-finished script, shrugged, and figured it would do fine anyway based on the names of those that were in it. It’s unfortunate, because the overall arc is there, it’s just dreadfully thin and boring the majority of the time.
As I alluded to in the beginning of the post, Joy is at its best when it allows the charisma of its stars to shine, along with the natural energy of Russell’s camera to play to the actor’s strengths. A better movie is hidden inside Joy, but unfortunately, you have to squint yourself into a headache to find it. I’m giving this a “D+”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"