by Tony Medley
Runtime 124 minutes.
OK for children.
If this is a comedy, I’m Babe Ruth. The title should have been “misery,”
even though the film is about a woman named Joy. There is no joy in this
film. The titular Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is surrounded by her hatefully
dysfunctional family members who are hostile to her, her father (Robert
DeNiro), half sister, Peggy (Elizabeth Röhm), and mother, Terry
(Virginia Madsen), are no help at all. The only people on her side,
seemingly, are her grandmother, Mimi (Diane Ladd) who keeps encouraging
her, and her divorced former husband, Tony (Edgar Ramirez), who
staunchly remains on her side throughout.
The problem is that
director, co-writer David O. Russell took a script by Annie Mumolo about
Joy Mangano, who made a fortune starting on QVC, and added
characteristics from lots of other women he has known, so that the term
“based on a true story” has even more dubious veracity than normal, even
in Hollywood. I’ve seen the real Joy on television and she’s nothing
like the way Lawrence portrays her. She’s smiling and seemingly happy.
Lawrence’s Joy is perpetually unhappy, even at the end when she’s
achieved enormous success.
The result is that you really can’t believe much of anything you see in
this film and, unfortunately, the story Russell tells isn’t worth seeing
for the fiction and unhappiness he inflicts upon the audience throughout
And apparently on his cast, too. The story is that Lawrence threw a fit
at one point and the two were screaming at each other. That bad karma
certainly shows through in this movie because it’s not a happy sit.
Bradley Cooper fans will
be disappointed because his role is little more than a cameo. If there
isn’t going to be a romance between Jennifer and Bradley, why put him in
the movie for a role that could have been adequately filled by someone
from Central Casting, except that Russell recently has tried to get all
three, Lawrence, Cooper, and DeNiro in his films if at all possible.
Spoiler alert. The
denouement, in which Joy confronts one of her protagonists, is so
ridiculous it defies credibility. The guy is adamant and tough and
unyielding, and then caves like a broken girl scout cookie with just one
paltry threat from Joy. Never in a million years. Russell should have
run this through someone who knew something about business and the real
world before he foisted it on his audience and come up with something
more realistic and believable. But, as I’ve said before, this is a
This picture proves that
a great cast a great movie does not necessarily make.