(Rating: ☆☆ out of 4) This film is not recommended. In brief: Clean-up in Aisle 4 GRADE: C The usually reliable David O. Russell lets down his fine cast of performers in his latest film, Joy, which doesn't quite live up to its title. Except for a strong performance from its lead, the delightful Jennifer Lawrence, the film remains a major disappointment. The film is loosely based on the true story of inventor Joy Mangano, but the screenplay also written by its director is a mess that needs to clean up its act. The film swings wildly between comedy and drama but never stays long enough to be effective in either category. Joy, winningly played by Ms. Lawrence, is interesting and the actress brings some verve to her role, but all of the supporting characters around her are sketchy and never amount to much more than quirky curmudgeons whose actions are so over-the-top that they never resemble anything remotely believable. The plot: Joy's life is in shambles (but then, so is the script). Living slightly above the poverty level and sharing her household with her dysfunctional divorced parents, Terry (Virginia Madsen), a reclusive soap opera addicted mother, and Rudy, a crotchety self-absorbed father (Robert De Niro) who takes up with a rich Italian widow named Trudy (Isabella Rossellini), Joy's ex-husband, Tony (Edgar Ramirez), who is trying to be a professional singer, Peggy (Elizabeth Rohm), her jealous stepsister, and Joy's two adorable children. Still her creative impulses compel her take action and change the direction her life is taking, which leads Joy to her long- time friend and adversary in business, Neil (Bradley Cooper), who gives her moral support on her latest venture. However, none of these relationships build to any satisfactory conclusion due to the stilted writing and uneven tone of the film. The ending also seems pat and forced as it quickly tries to tie up its loose ends, be they cotton or synthetic. With all of the talent involved, sadly, Joy is a joyless filmgoing experience. Visit my blog at: www.dearmoviegoer.com ANY COMMENTS: Please contact me at: [email protected]
1995. Joy has always been fascinated by creating things, this pursuit always supported emotionally by her maternal grandmother, Mimi. Joy feels that lack of practical support has led to others making fortunes on ideas she had come up with years ago but could not act upon manufacturing. Despite being broke, Joy is the person in her extended family to who everyone has always turned, in the process forgoing her own life, including not having attended college to help see her parents through their divorce. She works in an unsatisfying job as an Eastern Airlines ticket clerk, and lives with her mother Terry who spends all day in bed watching soap operas, her ex-husband Tony, a less than successful aspiring Latino Tom Jones wannabe, and their two children. Added to this mix is her father Rudy, the owner of a failing heavy-duty garage, which is managed by Joy's older half-sister Peggy, with who she has somewhat of a strained relationship, and for which Joy does the books. Sharon, Rudy's latest girlfriend who has just dumped him, drops him off on Joy's doorstep, making Joy's home life even more complicated as Rudy does not get along with either Terry or Tony. Joy begins to feel buried by her life, in the process her childhood dreams of making things seemingly getting farther and farther away. As such, Joy decides to make some changes in her life, and expects the unquestioning practical support of her family. Those changes include manufacturing a new product of her design, what she chooses this time around being a self-wringing mop. That support also includes being able to pitch the idea to Rudy's current wealthy girlfriend, Trudy. Even if she does get to the manufacturing stage, Joy will have to battle the narrow minds of business executives in marketing her product, that is unless she can find a way to get into the homes of the American public in one fell swoop. But nothing is a done deal until the consumer forks out his/her hard earned money for the product and all the legal issues are dealt with. Joy has to decide if she will "pick up the gun" as Trudy asked in their initial investment meeting in dealing with an especially troublesome legal issue.