Jennifer Lawrence is one-in-a-million by Hollywood standards. She’s an actress that can lead huge blockbuster franchises (The Hunger Games, X-Men) and can also be a critical darling landing herself three Oscar nominations and taking home the golden statue for her work in Silver Linings Playbook. Lawrence is young, beautiful, talented, and unafraid to speak her mind, plus she’s only 25-years-old. I have a feeling she may end up hearing her name called again during the Oscar nominations for her work in Joy, where she once again collaborated with her favorite director David O. Russell.
Joy is the biographical tale of Joy Mangano. A working-class divorced mother of two whose life is a soap opera. Her parents played by Robert De Niro and Virginia Madsen can’t be in the same room with each other without exploding into an argument. Her ex-husband lives in her basement and she’s stuck in a dead-end job. With all that said, Joy still feels she’s destined for greatness and gets an opportunity to make something out of her life after she comes up with a game-changing idea. Joy must navigate the rough waters of business, while battling her family, in an attempt to create a better life for herself.
If you think Joy sounds like a Lifetime movie starring Mandy Moore, you would be correct. Joy is full of drama, but director David O. Russell and his favorite leading-lady Lawrence prevent the story as coming off as melodramatic-fluff meant to toy with your emotions. Lawrence takes this role that could have been very one-dimensional and gives her that certain something that makes you want to root for her throughout her good decisions and bad. Lawrence takes you on wild ride in her role as Joy Mangano that is filled with scenes of defeat, self-determination and pride when it comes to protecting the product you believe in.
The support staff in Joy including De Niro, Madsen and Bradley Cooper as forward thinking QVC executive, provide ample support. However make no mistake, this isn’t an ensemble cast like Russell’s previous films The Fighter and American Hustle. Joy is Lawrence’s film and she owns it. If anything, the cast is a distraction to the story, such as her mother’s apparent mental quirks or her father’s shady business dealings that are never fully explained. Bradley Cooper is the only one to grab some of the attention from Lawrence, but his role is limited.
David O. Russell spends a little too much of running time in Joy focusing on the family drama instead of the more exciting time with Lawrence’s portrayal of Joy making a run at success with her clever invention. Joy picks up immediately after a slow start when this portion of our heroine’s journey is examined. The film could have benefited from delving into this part of Joy’s life sooner, but Joy is still a good-watch for anyone who believed they were destined for something bigger in their lives thanks to the always reliable stellar acting from Jennifer Lawrence.
Overall, I give Joy 3 out of 4 stars.