Joy review


  • David O. Russell


  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Robert De Niro
  • Bradley Cooper
  • Edgar Ramierez
  • Virginia Madsen
  • Isabella Rossellini
  • Rated: PG-13

“Joy” is inspired by the true story of businesswoman Joy Mangano (played by Lawrence) and details her rise from a person struggling to get by to an inventor who starts her own company. The story begins with Joy working a dead end job, having to take care of her mother who doesn’t do anything but watch soaps, having to raise her children and dealing with her ex-husband.

During a boat outing with her father Rudy (De Niro) and his new girlfriend Trudy, an accident happens that gives Joy the idea to create a new type of mop. What follows is her story of trying to manufacture her invention and get it out to market just as shopping channels are being introduced to the public.

There were certainly some story elements in “Joy” that worked and made for an engaging picture. For the most part, though, Director David O. Russell’s latest film is somewhat of a mess, with the main problem being how much time was focused on Joy’s quirky and crazy family.

It’s understandable that some of this was part of the main character’s actual life, but there were many moments where it just seemed over the top and repetitive. Multiple times in the movie Joy would hit a rough spot, her family would get angry and then she would make some progress.

Because of this reason, a more interesting part of the film, the creation of the network QVC, isn’t given enough time. The movie also wraps up in extremely rushed fashion, with the ‘final conflict’ being resolved far too easily. On top of all that, “Joy” features a completely unnecessary narration.

A factor that does work in “Joy” is the acting. There is a lot of talent across the board and it shows, with good performances coming from Lawrence, who sells her character’s motivation, and Cooper, who like always brings plenty of charisma.

Some of the performances felt a bit wasted, though, mainly due to the complaints above. For example, Elisabeth Rohm plays Joy’s sister Peggy, and through most of the movie all she does is scoff at all of Joy’s ideas and treat her terribly. Not only is this repetitive, but it was also pointless since upon researching the subject, one can find out that the character Peggy is fictional and never existed.

The same can be said about De Niro and Isabella Rossellini. I get that the movie was trying to show the hardships Joy went through, but these characters were so negative sometimes that they didn’t come across as real people.

This is the second time I’ve had issues with Russell’s filmmaking, following the 2013 movie “American Hustle.” Like the 2013 movie, “Joy” seems to spend too much time with crazy, quirky characters and not enough time with the interesting true stories that drive them. Maybe for others it works, but for me, this one is just a 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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