Movie Review: Joy

I was curious whether David O. Russell could pull off a third film with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (and technically, Robert DeNiro).

jennifer-lawrence-as-joyThis is how I ended up seeing the movie Joy. The choices at the Spectrum in Albany, my favorite movie venue, were showing Joy, The Big Short, The Danish Girl, Spotlight, Carol, Brooklyn, and Youth.

Oh, yeah, and some space opera thing that seems to be somewhat popular. I would have seen any of them, though especially Spotlight and The Big Short.

But we weren’t IN Albany, we were in Oneonta, about 75 miles away, on Christmas weekend. The only crossover between the mall theater in Oneonta and the Spectrum was Joy.

I was interested in seeing this movie in part because it was based on the real story of entrepreneur Joy Mangano, who invented a better floor mop. How can that be a compelling story?

Also, I was curious whether David O. Russell could pull off a third film with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (and technically, Robert DeNiro) after they had appeared in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. I’m thinking that it feels somewhat rather like the troop of actors who used to show up in Woody Allen films.

This is a pretty solid 100 minute-film. Unfortunately, it ran 124. There’s a lot of nice bits: real soap opera actresses (Susan Lucci. Donna Mills) as the soap opera that Joy’s mom, Terry (Virginia Madsen), though the joke went on too long. As a business librarian, I found the parts with QVC rather interesting; Melissa Rivers played her mother Joan.

I appreciated the actors, including Édgar Ramírez as Joy’s ex-husband/still friend Tony; Diane Ladd as grandma Mimi, the narrator who seemed to disappear for large portions of the film; and Isabella Rossellini, as Trudy, Joy’s financier and the girlfriend of Rudy (DeNiro). But the character of Joy’s half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Röhm of Law & Order) is a movie contrivance, unrelentingly negative.

There IS a good film there, I’m convinced, and Jennifer Lawrence carries much of it. But it’s muddled, and the transitions from scene to scene often didn’t work. I’m not quite sure I “believed” the ending. All of that said, I did enjoy it at the moment, though – and this is always a bad sign – I checked my watch 2/3s of the way through.