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If you’re like me you might have had no idea who Joy Mangano was or why her name is notable. You may not know the name but chances are you are familiar with some of her work. She is an American inventor and currently holds over 100 patents for her inventions. To call her a forward thinking revolutionary might be underselling things just a tad. Award winning director David O. Russell known at of late for his work on The Fighter (2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and American Hustle (2013) targeted this amazing person as the subject for his next potential hit, aptly titled Joy. What would the end of the year be like without a David O. Russell movie? Thankfully after being absent last year, he’s back with yet another solid December offering.
Ever since she was a little girl, Joy had her head in the clouds, always thinking outside of the box. If a task needed doing, she’d find a way to do it better and more efficiently. Her parents though, felt that it’s a waste of time and energy trying to be different, or better. She eventually succumbed to their will and followed the herd. In her adult years, Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is a single mother of three who is working hard to support the household which also includes her unemployed ex-husband Tony (Édgar Ramírez) as well as her somewhat reclusive mother (Virginia Madsen) and her grandmother (Diane Ladd). And as if things aren’t cramped and crazy enough already, her father, Rudy (Robert De Niro) is placed on her doorstep after another failed relationship.
Life waits for no one and bad things happen to good people. Joy can attest to both of those statements as her situation changes and as the bills mount, so does the frustration. Having her grandmother, Mimi, to lean on, she begins to believe in herself again and sets out to make a name for herself by selling an idea that she came up with to make mopping easier and much more sanitary. This leads her down a crazy road and eventually into a meeting with Neil (Bradley Cooper) who gives her an avenue that may allow Joy to profit from ingenuity. Leaning on her dad’s new girlfriend (Isabella Rossellini) for some financial startup support, she starts to believe that maybe her life is meant for greater things.
Joy is a bit quirkier than some of David O. Russell’s previous movies. There’s element to the movie that I still can’t a purpose for. It involves scenes of a soap opera that appears randomly throughout. Even though there are many familiar, and talented people featured, things never reach their full potential. It’s as if every performance other than Jennifer Lawrence’s was purposely dwarfed by comparison. That’s not to say that any one actor turned in a subpar performance, that isn’t the case at all. It’s more of the fact that they aren’t given the opportunity to be much more than pawns on a chessboard with one queen getting all of the glory.
The life of Joy Mangano is one of great interest and inspiration. The movie of Joy Mangano however, doesn’t quite reach that upper echelon of David O. Russell smash hits. The lack of continuity and chemistry makes Joy feel somewhat forced and contrived. There will surely be a niche for the this product but I, for one, am not buying what they’re selling. The final third of the movie is the most interesting part so at least it ends on a high note. It might be time to break up the gang and do something totally different the next time around.

Joy is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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