Joy stars Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, the real-life woman who invented the Miracle Mop and launched an empire in the process. It’s directed by David O. Russell, who won audiences over with the The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, then left us all feeling mildly dissatisfied with American Hustle. We got pretty excited about Russell releasing another Jennifer Lawrence-led project over the holidays, but get ready for another heaping dose of disappointment. Joy doesn’t live up to Russell’s previous Oscar nominees, and that means it’s not even as good as the not-very-good American Hustle.
The problem here is Joy’s family, who unintentionally thwart every chance she has of a normal life. She lives under the same roof as her singer-ex-husband (Tony Miranne), volatile father (Robert De Niro) and neurotic mother (Virginia Madsen), who is so quirky she might have just stepped out of a Wes Anderson flick. Throw a couple of kids in the mix and Joy is so overwhelmed she can barely breathe, much less thrive. Jennifer Lawrence is at her best when she’s slaying dragons but she’s so busy throwing punches here that her character never develops. By the time Joy finally finds some success, we’re all too exhausted to celebrate with her.
There are some moments in Joy that work, namely every shot at the QVC studios (I especially liked how Melissa Rivers played her mother, Joan) and a fun soap-opera story line that pops up occasionally. It’s not enough to save this movie from it’s own phrenetic energy, which is why I’m giving Joy a C. Man, we had such high hopes for this one. I’m honestly as bummed to write this review as you probably are to read it!