They say that good things come to those who wait - those people are idiots. Unless youâ€™re a lottery winner or a trust fund baby youâ€™ll likely spend the majority of your adult life slogging away at a regular job you probably donâ€™t like, avoiding risk in the hopes that youâ€™ll be able to scrape enough together so you wonâ€™t have to subside on ramen and tuna in retirement. But for the brave few with the courage to pursue their dreams thereâ€™s hope. Maybe.Single mom Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is barely treading water: struggling to pay the mortgage on her crumbling home she has to support not only herself and two kids, but her shut-in soap opera addicted mom, and her unemployed ex-husband who lives in the basement. Just when she thinks things canâ€™t get worse, her dad's latest girlfriend drops him off on the doorstep like a puppy who can't be housetrained. One day while mopping up yet another mess she has an idea that could revolutionize home cleaning and her life.
One would think that Joy Mangano's plucky mopheads-to-millionaire life story would be inspiration enough, but writer/director David O. Russell apparently decided that it needed some heavy dashes melodrama to spice things up. Too bad he didnâ€™t know when to stop. In previous outings Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle subtlety wasnâ€™t exactly in short supply, but they worked because the larger than life characters were well fleshed out and held the stories together. In contrast Joy lacks any substantive context for the unfolding events and the story as a whole begins to feel like a reality TV program gone woefully astray. And after more than an hour of virtually non-stop negativity being heaped on our plucky protagonist by everyone except her kids and her ex, you just want her agony to be over. The cast fare little better.
The characters are poorly written and quickly devolve into ridiculous caricatures, who utter nonsensical lines to highlight their stupidity and serve as little more than mawkish foils. And the wonderful chemistry that Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper and to a lesser extent Robert De Niro shared in SLPB is completely absent here as they share virtually no screen time. While everyone and everything feels plastic, Lawrence is able to wring a decent performance from her character, imbuing her with charisma and genuine emotion, proving yet again what a talent she is.By virtue of its title and subject matter Joy should be a movie that buoys audiences and encourages them to believe in themselves, instead it proves to be a nasty melodramatic slog that shines oh so briefly in the third act. And please donâ€™t make Ms. Lawrence cry again.