Joy full movie review - What's it All About, Joy?
The first time I heard that David O. Russell was making a movie about the woman that made the Miracle Mop, I didn't really know what to think. Why is that interesting to him?
Is there some kind of wild story about Joy Mangano that nobody knows about? I checked out her Wikipedia page, and it said nothing about her previous life, other than, she was a single-mom, who struggled her way to the top. It's the rags to riches story, one that we've all heard. You know, the one about the American dream. But so what? That story has been told a million times. Some of the greatest movies ever made are about that. Is this going to be another one? ?. It's about the Miracle Mop, how could it? What possessed the director of American Hustle to make a movie about that? Then the trailer came out, and I was even more stunned. It looked pretty damn good, but I have no idea what it was trying to say. The standout shots were Bradley Cooper smiling widely and Jennifer Lawrence shooting a shotgun in a parking lot. I don't get it, but you know what? I've got to see this thing. David O. Russell might have something really creative here.
Did he? Eh, maybe he did? The verdict is, Joy is a strange movie. Everything that I wondered about it was true. It was a non-story, made out to be a big deal. There really wasn't that much to work with. The story is as small as the Wikipedia page of Joy Mangano. What Russell does instead is focusing in on the determination and strength of one woman. Joy, as insignificant as her story may be, is presented here as a female warrior. Someone, who despite every curveball society threw at her, gets up and punches back even harder. Everyone in her life tells her that the Miracle Mop is a failure, but she still pushes through and gets it on the market. As with most of the world's most successful entrepreneurs, she lead an impossible goal as hard as she could take it, and wins. Being that she is a woman, in a male-centric world, she's even more of a reason to be admired.
So when you take into account the character of Joy, you allow yourself to really like this movie. However, when you look around Joy, nothing else is really there. David O. Russell has always liked making movies about multiple characters, all of whom are slightly insane. He did that terrifically in Silver Linings Playbook, and perhaps best of all in American Hustle. You're reminded of movies like Nashville and Magnolia when you see David O. Russell developing and expanding so many interesting, oddball characters into one movie revolving around one theme. But it doesn't work here. It's sad actually. The characters around Joy sure are crazy, but they don't serve any purpose, and they are sorely underdeveloped. The story is narrated by Joy's grandmother, who is the only other powerful woman in the movie, and Joy's inspiration in life. This sounds like a great character, but the problem is, we aren't told much about her. We have Joy's Mother, played by Virginia Madsen, who does nothing through movie but lay in her bed and watch soap operas. We actually get to see the soap opera she watches throughout the movie.. and I wish we didn't, because it added absolutely nothing to story. Robert De Niro plays Joy's father, who's basically an obnoxious playboy.. and that's about it.. poor De Niro, remember when he was good in movies? Edgar Ramirez plays Joy's ex-husband, who lives in her basement, making money as Joy's business associate and as failed lounge singer.. OK then. Worst of all is a largely thankless role by Bradley Cooper as the TV executive at QVC. Talk about a waste. Bradley Cooper, who in the last five years has given some incredible performances, is relegated to a walk-on role, with nothing to do but flirt with J Law again, as he always does, because audiences seem to like that.
I seem to be criticizing the movie an awful lot, but it doesn't mean that I disliked it. I'm just slightly disappointed that David O. Russell didn't try harder to make this as good as the last two movies he's made. Maybe it wasn't meant to be in the first place. But I still liked this movie. Why after all that do I still like this movie? Two words, Jennifer Lawrence. She's mesmerizing, she's beautiful, she's the actress of our time. She's amazing as Joy Mangano. She made me genuinely feel some very strong feelings about the woman who made the Miracle Mop. I was not expecting that. J Law, whatever you are doing, never stop. Keep going.
As a story about women in general, Joy comes up very short. As a film about one in particular, I did have fun watching it.