David O. Russell’s muse is Jennifer Lawrence. She starred in his last two films, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.” He directed and wrote the screenplay for “Joy” which, once again, stars Lawrence, this time playing the inventor of the “Miracle Mop,” Joy Mangano. Although un-even and, at times, meandering and unrealistic (and not as good as those two prior films), another terrific performance by Lawrence as well as an inspiring feel-good story about Mangano overcoming many formidable obstacles to achieve her success make this film enjoyable and worth a trip to the BS.
Joy was valedictorian of her high school. She is creative and enjoys making things. Her family, however, is dysfunctional and her life is pretty messed up. Her parents are divorced. Her mother still lives with her and her father occasionally crashes her place too. Instead of going to college, she stayed home because her mother, Carrie (Virginia Madsen), lives in her room watching soap-operas all day long, and her father, Rudy (Robert De Niro), needs her help running his marginal business. She married a handsome singer, Tony (Edgar Ramirez), but he never made it and can’t hold a job to support her and her two kids. They are also divorced, but he still lives in her basement, since he can’t afford a place of his own. Her one positive influence is her grandmother, Mimi (Diane Ladd).
She has an inspiration and invents the “miracle mop.” She gets start-up capital from her father’s new girlfriend, Trudy (Isabella Rosselini). Despite nearly going under, she eventually prevails. The film primarily involves how she overcame the many obstacles to her success once she started her business. There are some really terrific scenes and Lawrence plays the vulnerable woman with tremendous inner strength about as well as anyone. The film also has a wonderful ensemble cast. I doubt “Joy” will “clean up” at the Oscars, but, on the whole, it’s still a good film.