With narration told by her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), the only person who believes in and encourages young Joy’s as her story begins at Rudy’s Bus and Truck metal shop, where being an imaginative creative girl, she entertains herself through paper models of forests and castles.
Based on a true story, the film depicts the rise of female inventor and entrepreneur Joy (Jennifer Lawrence), who rises to fame by hawking her Miracle Mop on QVC. The story is much more than about business success, for Joy is a 1970’s housewife who supports four generations in her house, including her ex-husband, Tony (Edgar Ramirez) and father Rudy (Robert De Niro).
Director David O. Russell struggles here, a bit unsuccessfully I might add, to portray a harrowing the path to the mop. Joy deals with a houseful of kids, only a few of them children by actual age. The motley crew she calls family all crammed in her small house are not on Joy’s side. She is the breadwinner, the adult, the rock whose imagination is a liability to those overly dependent on her. Her mother Terry (Virginia Madsen) a soap-opera viewing addict, who watches made-for-this-film, unfunny soap opera segments that seem unmotivated with there being no implication as to why we are pointing to the off-TV characters. It’s goes on to become a paint-by-numbers affair from there – familial jealousy from sister Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm), dirty financial dealings, the nightmare of the age-old saying, “Do not do business with your family.”
After all, Joy manages to build a mop prototype. She brings it to QVC where the initial sale segment bombs. With Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), the slick head honcho of newly formed shopping network QVC behind her, he takes a chance and allows Joy to showcase the mop herself. Bingo! The mop sells out. Success? Nope. The parts supplier is screwing Joy, every sale of the mop loses money, and the family wants their money back. Financial ruin follows. Then Grandma passes. But Joy decides she’s been walked all over enough and ‘womans up’ to settle all scores financial and emotional. You would think Hooray! right? If only the story wasn’t so average and been done so many times before would it be all that and more.
The acting is nothing notable as De Niro is no stranger to playing a conflicted father with a big heart, though there is something a bit off-kilter here even for him on this. We all know Lawrence & Cooper play well off each other and they do that again here. It’s Edgar Ramirez, who after falling so flat in Point Break, really stands up and dazzles amongst this all-star cast.
So let me just do a quick sum up for you in one sentence. ‘Down and out mother thinks up an invention, brings it to market, and becomes rich after some pitfalls that, in reality, is all fought and done with lawyers in the end’. In lieu of dramatizing a woman overcoming, Russell instead created a often unfunny comedy.
While the real life, inventive Joy deserves kudos, the bottom line is this is a feature film about the creator of a better mop and offers little on the path to an unsatisfying end where Joy makes it big and helps others succeed.
With all the heavy-hitters in film coming out these last 2 weeks of the year, it’s doubtful JOY will stand out amongst them.
Review Screening: Monday, December 21, 2015 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Studios
Nationwide release: Friday, December 25, 2015
20 thoughts on “REVIEW: “JOY” (2015) 20th Century Fox”
Despite not having seen the film yet, you have written a great review as usual 🙂 I have been a big fan of David O. Russell in the past. I really loved Three Kings, The Fighter and American Hustle. While Flirting with Disaster, I Heart Huckabees and Silver Linings Playbook were very very good. I have always admired Virginia Madsen as an actress and person (she was born in my home state) 🙂 but judging by everything you say, it does sound like she is wasted in this film, which is a shame 😦 Same thing seems to apply to the great Robert De Niro here 😦 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂
Disappointed to see the reviews considering I really really wanted this to be good (fan of O Russell’s previous stuff too). Great review!
Yeah.. it’s not bad by any means.. but I think everyone expected and wanted so much more.
Total agreement on this one, Peggy.
Hi Peggy! I had never heard of Miracle Mop so totally unfamiliar w/ the story, but somehow nothing about this film appealed to me. I’m a bit tired of seeing Jennifer Lawrence on screen to be honest, so given the middling reviews I’ll definitely skip it.
Good call!! 🙂 I vaguely remember this mop. I don’t mind JLaw.. she can be good in some things..but the film & whole thing just falls flat. It’s a cable watch at best. Happy New Year to you Ruth! 😀
Arrghh. The reviews for this one make me sad. I was pretty interested in checking it out but each review speaks of some glaring issues.
Big issues.. your best bet is just to catch a cable viewing when it comes up. Happy New Year to you Keith!!! 😀
Great review! I was completely thrown off guard by the plot of it. I just don’t understand what was so fascinating that made people think we should make a movie about an old QVC product. Still seeing De Niro, Cooper, and Lawrence on screen is always a pleasure. ^^
Absolutely agree.. I really enjoyed Edgar Ramirez in this one!!
Did you read my comment? 🙂 Anyway, in case you do not post anything new before 2016, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and keep up the great work as always 🙂
Sad to read that this is not quite as good as might be expected. I would still see it for the same reasons most of us would: Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
I know.. I wanted so much more from this cast as I like them all so much.. ah well.. Happy 2016 to you and look forward to many more fun reviews from you in this new year.. 😀
Same here! Happy 2016!
A messy movie, but at least Lawrence is good enough here to save the day. Nice review.
Thanks Dan.. I think we all wanted so much more from this one with such a fantastic cast attached!! Happy 2016 to you!!
I really wanted to love Joy, primarily for its story – a matriarch setting her granddaughter free to break the mold of her family and be successful by her imagination. Yet, the movie was so unfunny, and not really dramatic. All the performances are off-kilter. Great review!
Thanks Katy.. I agree!! especially with this fantastic cast.. I wanted more!!! Happy 2016 to you!!!
I finally got to see Joy and shockingly enough, I actually loved it, but then again, I am a huge fan of director David O. Russell 🙂 Anyway, I finally posted on my blog cinematiccoffee my favorite films of 2015 and so forth 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂 and I hope you enjoy reading my blog entry 🙂
Well there is always that one who loves it.. ha! 😀