PG-13 | 124 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters December 25th 2015**
Synopsis: Joy is the story of a family across four generations and the woman who rises to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.
Review: Everyone seems to be on the Biography Drama bandwagon. Adapting real life stories into Hollywood plot lines has pushed out any solidly crafted, inspirationally unique attempts at writing. Though the characters may be intriguing the movies do not always end up as such. Case in point, JOY.
Joy Mangano's (Jennifer Lawrence) claim to fame and success was wrung out in a nifty household devise called the Miracle Mop. This struggling, single mother of two is drowning in a sea of family disfunction. Her father (Robert De Niro) and mother (Isabella Rossellini) are divorced and her ex-husband (Édgar Ramírez) is living in her basement. Her mother never leaves the bedroom and her dad is always dropping by with needs of his own. The only constant in her life is her Grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) who repeatedly reminds her she is destined for greatness.
This film may have been sabotaged by expectations. It is written and directed by David O. Russell who along with three members of this esteemed cast brought us 2012's Silver Linings Playbook and 2013's American Hustle. Plus it is releasing on Christmas Day in the height of award season. So obviously hordes expected this to be memorable and powerful. But sadly it is forgettable and mediocre.
One main issue could be that even though Joy's journey is remarkable and we love to cheer an underdog success story there is simply not enough meat on the bone for a full length drama. And where there is some nice nuggets of intrigue they are lost in a myriad of family outbursts and repetitive dysfunction. The viewer ends up seeing the devastating result of actions without every getting the benefit of seeing how it developed.
The plot rides a roller coaster of ups and downs as we witness Joy make smart decisions followed up by bad advice taking. The two steps forward and one step back dance eventually trips and face plants in a "how did we end up here" finale. The antagonist is her family and how they manipulate and misguide her. But the dialogue between them all is choppy and lacks the flow of a well crafted drama. This takes away from many of the more impactful scenes.
Bradley Cooper makes an appearance as Neil Walker the head of a new TV station that America soon knew of as The Home Shopping Network. Neil gives Joy the break she needs but sadly even this doesn't help her overcome her horrible business practices. It may have been a better movie if it dealt strictly with the mop side of the story and less with the family drama. Or make it about a young entrepreneur dealing with the ugly side of success. Regardless there is too much going on for nothing to really transpire. So we end up with a ho hum film that could easily show up on Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel.
JOY is rated PG-13 for brief strong language. In a nutshell De Niro's character drops the F bomb once. Other than that this could easily run on prime-time family channels with little or no editing needed. In fact that is where I suggest watching it. And that is a sad statement considering who all is involved in this film. I admire them all and wanted so much more. I give it 2 out of 5 shards of broken glass. Best to throw out the script and mop up the rest as best you can.