Jan 6, 2016

[Movies] Joy (2015)

The end of the year typically means we see a bunch of different heavy and serious movies that are clearly vying for awards next year. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - we do end up with some pretty good movies after all. And instead of watching this movie after the various award nominations have been announced, we actually got to watch this over the holidays because reasons.

Joy is actually a biopic, interestingly enough. And while the decision to cast Jennifer Lawrence is quite a brilliant one although it comes with certain preconceptions based on her prior roles. Just looking at her claim to fame, this being The Hunger Games movies, and that does make you think of her role there and certain parallels when you compare her to her character here.

There's sort of a positive message here, although one that's quite tied to the stereotypical American dream, I suppose. She's certainly portraying quite the strong woman here, albeit not necessarily the most likable one. But hey, you don't need to be loved to get ahead in business, right?

Synopsis: Joy is a 2015 biographical drama movie written and directed by David O. Russell. The movie is loosely based on the life of inventor and businesswoman Joy Mangano whose claim to fame is tied to selling many products on QVC and later the Home Shopping Network.
After a brief flashback that talks about her being a girl full of ideas, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) is introduced to us as a divorced mother of two who is living in a rather beat-up house together with her mother, Terri (Virginia Madsen), her grandmother, Mimi (Diane Ladd), and her ex-husband Tony (Édgar Ramírez). Her parents are also divorced and one of the first events in the movie involves her father Rudy (Robert De Niro) arriving in need of a place to stay since his latest girlfriend has kicked him out. Her older half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Röhm) works with their father and has developed a somewhat antagonist relationship with Joy.

One thing leads to another and an incident involving a broken glass of red wine inspires her to invent a mop where you don't need to touch the mop head. And she approaches Rudy's latest girlfriend, a very business-oriented Italian widow for help with funding to create her "Miracle Mop" and bring it to market. And the movie documents her many struggles to get it manufactured and to push it out to retail. Thank you television-driven shopping.

The movie is rather somber and feels a little heavier than it probably needs to be. Then again, such movies are never meant to be cakewalks, although the inspirational side of the message gets a little muddied by how miserable things are at the beginning. And as much as Jennifer Lawrence is playing a hard-working single mother, she is once again in a role that doesn't feel overly likable. She's had to do the same thing as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movies. Thus the better she acts, the harder it is to like her.

But the movie does present a version of her life that is indeed pretty harsh with so many things against her. It seems that almost every possible problem that can come her way does happen during her path to success including the death of a loved one - I'm trying not to be too specific there. But yeah, it's everything and the kitchen sink.

David O. Russell already has a bit of a history working with both Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. This time around there was definitely a feeling of Cooper not having been utilized fully, but then what can one expect from a minor role I suppose. And this movie has a lot of notable names involves and yet a lot of it just seems to drift through at a rather slow and methodical pace.

Don't get me wrong, at the end of things it's still a good movie with a lot of impact. Joy's story of success certainly has a lot of good things going for it and it's still the sort of story about not giving up on your dreams no matter how bad things seem to get. Of course not everyone could have risen up to the challenges that she had to face, but it's still quite the strong example to try and follow should the need arise.

Joy may not be a movie that is as happy as it's title, but it's still a thoughtful piece that deserves a viewing. I don't necessarily think that it's going to win awards, but then what do I know. Thus the movie gets 3.5 innovations one can attribute to Joy Mangano out of a possible 5.

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