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Midvale Journal

Dan's Review: Lawrence is best reason to see "Joy"

Dec 24, 2015 01:42PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Joy - © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

Joy (20th Century Fox)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Édgar Ramírez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Röhm, Madison Wolfe, Dascha Polanco, Emily Nunez, Melissa Rivers, Donna Mills, Susan Lucci, Maurice Benard, Laura Wright, Alexander Cook, Isabella Crovetti-Cramp, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Drena De Niro. 

Written by David O. Russell and Annie Mumolo.

Directed by David O. Russell



Jennifer Lawrence is hard not to like. She’s beautiful, funny and demands your attention in whatever film she appears. Her professional relationship with David O. Russell reaped a best actress Oscar a few years ago in Silver Linings Playbook and another nomination for American Hustle, so why not get the team back together?

Lawrence plays Joy Mangano, a single divorced mother living on Long Island with her mother (Virginia Madsen), grandmother (Diane Ladd), two kids and her ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez), who stays her the basement while pursuing a lounge-singing career. Things get messy when Joy’s dad Rudy (Robert De Niro) starts dating a wealthy widow named Trudy (Isabella Rossellini) moves into the basement with Tony (they don’t get along). Frustrated by being the primary breadwinner for this group of misfits, Joy gets an idea for an invention she knows could change her fortunes: a new kind of mop. Joy convinces Trudy to invest in developing the “Miracle Mop,” as Rudy, her cynical sister Peggy and helpful best friend Jackie (Dascha Polanco) help out. Tony arranges a meeting with Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), a Home Shopping Network executive who gives her a change to sell the mop on television. After a rough start, Joy is allowed to demonstrate and sell the mop herself over the air, and sales take off. Her success is threatened when a dubious businessman tries to steal her patent away, but Joy’s spirit is not broken, and she goes to extreme measures to regain control of her invention.

Joy is a very good movie, albeit about a strong woman who invented a mop and took over her own destiny through the Home Shopping Network. Lawrence’s performance is on par with her other award-worthy appearances, as she continues to dominate the screen with her beauty and spirit. The David O. Russell formula and usual suspects (including Cooper and De Niro) are starting to blend together, making all of them seem less important. Maybe it’s time to branch out a little and try a new combination.

Russell’s story also contains a plot twist at the end of the movie as Joy suddenly acquires legal acumen beyond her simple education and circumstances. It’s a moment of triumph that conveniently wraps up all conflicts like the ending of a Scooby-Doo episode, and appears to be contrived.

Even so, Joy is a “joy” to watch if only for Lawrence’s performance.

Joy Trailer