“In the weeks leading up to Joy’s release, I really could not get a handle on the film. Clearly, it was on my must list given that it’s directed by David O. Russell and has a cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro, but what was the film about? I’d considered proposing this as the potential Christmas movie with Mom that never happened, but I never really decided how I’d describe the movie to her. The trailer showed a bunch of images of an interesting looking character, but who was she? I’d heard synopsis that said it was the bio of the woman who invented the wonder mop (random much?) and others that said it was a look thru decades of the life of a entrepreneurial mother (yawn much?).

Okay, let’s try and get that first question settled then. Drawing mostly from the life of Joy Mangano, the film amalgamated the stories of several women to create Joy *Last name never revealed*. There’s some timeline jumping early on that was a little confusing, but once things settle, the thru-story is about this young-ish (to be assumed given Lawrence’s casting, but she still seemed way too young) single mother. She’s put her life on hold for her family, and in a stroke of inspiration, returns to her childhood passion of inventing. She attempts to go into business selling a revolutionary mop that she’s created, and she finds the struggle to be far more than she bargained for.

Does that make it sound a bit more interesting? The truth is, the story was engaging, once it got a grounded. There were some art-y detours, especially early on, but it worked when it was focused. However, something always felt superficial about it. Maybe it was hard to suspend disbelief given the disparate age of our lead actress and her role. Maybe there were too many artistic flourishes that distracted. Maybe no one ever really knew what the point was of what they were doing (other than the obvious J-Law is awesome, so let’s have her lead a movie that calls for a strong female protagonist). I don’t know, I still can’t get a handle on it, even though I’ve at least got the story down.

Yes all the A-listers littered about the cast delivered, although I was most happy to see non-A-lister Elizabeth Rohm emerge from the shadows with a role she could really bite into as Joy’s halfway antagonistic half sister. I’ve heard criticism that Bradley Cooper was underutilized, and it’s true that the role seemed a little overly simplistic for his talents, giving the illusion that he may have been phoning it in. And J-Law, well again she’s fantastic and she did her best, delivering an expectedly solid performance, but ultimately not being enough to really save the movie from vapid mediocrity. Heh, good thing I created a new “”Most Mediocre”” category for my year end wrap up, because it looks like we’ve got a front runner from day one.

Joy – \m/ \m/ \m/”

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