“Joy” seems to be a crowd-pleaser of a movie. Having been released a couple of weeks ago, the theater is full. The promise of elevating one’s economic class or of hearing the story of a successful sales pitch or just laughing at a family that reminds one of one’s own must be the draw. We first see a black and white soap opera where characters named Bartholomew, Jared and Clarinda vie for their desires. We understand that a grandmother called Mimi(Diane Ladd) will be our narrator, and that she will tell her granddaughter ‘s own story~ a soap in itself.
The film is well cast. Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy (Mangano is never mentioned,and we don’t know how true to life the actual screenplay is), but our protagonist is the doer who doesn’t need a prince and who still reigns as a very successful inventor and designer of a self-wringing mop. Robert DeNiro plays her clueless father and Isabelle Rossellini almost steals the show as Trudy, his current girl friend. Bradley Cooper teams up with Lawrence,again,as he did in “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2012. His smile a little brighter; his sincerity not so much.
The first half has many “laugh out loud moments”. Joy’s unrolled toilet tissue divides her ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) of two years and her father’s basement bedrooms. They are both living with her, her mother, her daughter and her grandmother. Her mother (Virginia Madsen) spends all her waking hours whining and watching “the stories”. One of my favorite lines occurred when a plumbing problem disrupted her screen viewing. Joy’s wry sympathy takes the form of ” No tv~ very scary for you,mom.”
There are some creative screenplay and camera elements like close-up silhouettes, dream sequences, and a winter sail. This may be story writer Annie Mumolo’s. The “four questions of financial worthiness” keep watching 300 feet of continual cotton loops looping more interesting. For those who watch QVC ( Quality Value Convenience), HSN (Home Shopping Network )or “Shark Tank”, you will be right at home. Joy makes some stupid mistakes, recoups, persists, and remembers where she came from to mentor others after she succeeds. The end is a tad too congratulatory and repetitive. We know she is an American winner, and that many aspire to her dreams. David O. Russell, director and also script writer, loves the underdog. Enjoyable,but long.