Joy Mangano, a self-made tycoon with 100 patents, has something that would make award strategists jump for joy – the rags to riches story of a divorced mother with three children.
Jennifer Lawrence does her best and it’s easy to root for her as Joy. The rest of the cast did well with what they’re given.
The camera follows its titular character at every step as she tries to make her way out of the muck, even though there’s plenty of dead weight holding her back. The movie excels in those mundane moments when it focuses on its lead. The familial discord does offer some amusing antics.
Unfortunately, David O. Russell dilutes the value of the source material by adding a botched formula. Like American Hustle, the movie is more preoccupied with parading around its mix of characters and ends up pushing the main narrative to the sidelines.
The family drama drags on and plays like a soap opera. When the plot finally remembers what it’s supposed to be about, Joy’s epiphany is an out of the blue eureka moment instead of ingenuity born out of necessity.
Riding from the success of the Silver Lining’s Playbook, Russell tries to milk the chemistry between J.Law and B.Coop but falls flat because everything else around them is a mess. After a lengthy exposition centered around family dysfunction, the movie turns into a fairy tale of the strong independent woman with a perfunctory ending.
Try as she might, Jennifer Lawrence can’t save a half-baked movie. Russell tries to mix offbeat comedy with gritty working-class drama but fails to make it come together. It didn’t help that the main character who is supposed to tie it all together, is a caricature buried underneath flighty tonal shifts, contrived dialogue, and one-note foils.
Joy tries to be the feminist movie of the year, but it’s held back by a badly written and executed script from a director who’s more interested in practicing his shtick. Joy is more of a mash-up between American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook than an origins story that its plucky heroine deserves.
Joy is a badly written and executed script that sidelines its titular character.