Director: David O Russell
Writers: David O Russell, Annie Mumolo
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper
Genre: True Story/ Drama
Rating: PG-13 (For Brief Strong Language)
After trucking through Silver Linings Playbook I witnessed a side of Jennifer Lawrence I wish I could unsee. She was rude, broken, crass, and mental. Now David O Russell tries his hand at another project that puts Jennifer Lawrence in one of her most inspiring roles yet. Yes, even more inspiring than the Hunger Games.
Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) was an aspiring inventor in her younger years, but the problems of her family dragged her down into obscurity. Her father, Rudy (Robert De Niro), owns a family garage and can’t seem to keep a significant other. Her mother, Terry (Virginia Madsen), is a shut-in and obsessed with daytime soap opera. Joy’s ex-husband, Tony (Edgar Ramirez), lives in her basement and her sister, Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm), constantly berates her as a mother.
Now Joy can barely hold a job as she cleans up the emotional and physical messes of her family–while looking after her two kids. Afraid of the crushing reality that she will end up as a nobody, she sets out to invent a product that will revolutionize the industry. After she creates the product, she has to face every hurdle, obstacle, adversary, and devil to prove she is a success. She meets the head director for QVC Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) who gives her the chance of a lifetime.
Will Joy skyrocket into a success or become a mess like her family destined her to be?
Language/Crude Humor: One F-word in the entire movie. The rest is curse word free. The TV executives make some crass sexual jokes.
Sexual Content: N/A
Drug/Alcohol References: Rudy’s new significant other says she needs more vodka.
Spiritual Content: When life gets you down you can quit and bury your head in the sand. That was Joy’s choice and she could have made it, but instead she refused to back down from any obstacle.
This reminds me of the missionary journey of Paul. He was determined to get the Gospel out to the churches, but he faced opposition from all sides. At any point he could have said that putting his life on the line was not worth it. No one would blame him. But because his passion for Christ and his belief and determination that God had a plan he was able to say this about his suffering:
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12
Joy didn’t give up when the problems got worse. We definitely should not give up when we have God in our corner.
Joy is a movie that makes us cheer for the underdog. As in other films, Jennifer Lawrence plays the victim of bad circumstances, but uses her no nonsense vigor to make some changes. In this partly true story about a down-on-her-luck mom who created the biggest business dynasty of the 80’s, Jennifer Lawrence carries the protagonist with her peppery drama and maturity of the character.
The director tries to distinguish itself from other rags to riches stories by making the family extra zany. It seems like everyone in David O Russell’s stories has a personality quirk. It works to keep the audience from being bored. Whether it is De Niro’s constantly intrusive character or Joy’s sister who seems to be at odds with her throughout the struggle, you actually feel the pressure of Joy’s life.
Some of the artsy choices made with a few flashbacks and dream sequences seemed a bit outlandish. Though they mostly help to create Jennifer’s character and show her dilemma, they come out of nowhere and are confusing. At least they’re short.
Joy’s pacing is right on target by making you care about what happens to Jennifer Lawrence. You will be rooting for her throughout the whole movie. The problem I found was that when Joy did face a hurdle she usually conquered it in the next scene, thus resolving conflict too quickly.
The whole purpose of Joy was to show a strong and inspiring female leader climb above poverty to become a major CEO. The fact that the movie refuses to use swearing or sex to muddy the positive message is an added plus. Her ex and best friend, Jackie (Dascha Palanko), push her along the path to greatness as a supporting cast, but it is Bradley Cooper’s small role that is her strongest relationship.
Joy is like a booster shot to the heart. You will hate her problems, curse her family, and love how she powers through her problems with determination. Don’t expect more than that in terms of story, just know that J-Law is a strong female lead and she can carry some big roles.
+ Wonderfully messed up family + Very clean content + Jennifer Lawrence makes a strong protagonist + You will cheer for her + The dream sequences?
- The conflicts go away too quickly - The dream sequences?
The Bottom Line
Joy is like a booster shot to the heart. You will hate her problems, curse her family, and love how she powers through her problems with determination. Don't expect more than that in terms of story. Just know that J-Law is a strong female lead and she can carry some big roles.