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Review: Joy

Joy
12.23.2015
6 10

PLOT: The story of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) who overcame adversity and the meddling of her own family to build a business dynasty.

REVIEW: David O. Russell is an excellent director, but as his films become more successful his style has moved away from the gonzo creativity of THREE KINGS and I HEART HUCKABEES into a more audience-friendly style that could be described as Martin Scorsese-lite. JOY continues that trend, with this being a fast-paced if ultimately artificial and cold feeling biopic. The only flashes of the old Russell come from his frequent cutaways to the soap operas Joy’s housebound mom (Virginia Madsen) are obsessed by, with vets like Susan Lucci playing themselves in deliberately tacky scenes.

Perhaps this is Russell’s way of preparing audiences for the artificiality of the film itself. Despite its basis in reality, this feels almost like a satire of old-fashioned melodramas, such as the ones directed by Douglas Sirk, albeit given a hyper-active speed and a soundtrack full of classic tunes – where Russell comes a little too close for comfort as far as paying homage to Scorsese goes, with him even using The Rolling Stones – a band Marty has a virtual monopoly over at this point.

For all the buzz around Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, JOY does not feel like an especially strong showcase for her. While she’s no doubt turned in exactly the kind of performance Russell wanted, the ‘big-ness” of it makes it feel like a total star-turn, making Joy less personable than she should be. Lawrence is also very young for the part, and scenes later in the film, where she’s supposed to be playing Joy in her middle-age, feel extremely forced.

Even still, JOY will likely nab Lawrence another Oscar nomination as she’s so beloved, but she’s been better elsewhere (I’d wager she turns in a far better performance in MOCKINGJAY PART 2). Lawrence’s isn’t the only one who’s over-the-top here. Robert De Niro’s positively manic as her doting father, who turns out to be something of a snake-in-the-grass as her product starts to take off. The same goes for Isabella Rossellini, who’s not that much different here than she is in Guy Maddin films as De Niro’s girlfriend and initial investor in Joy’s product. Of the main cast, the strongest and most natural performances come from Edgar Ramirez as Joy’s supportive ex-husband and Orange is the New Black’s Dascha Polanco as her likable best friend.

Highly-billed Bradley Cooper also turns up in a juicy supporting turn as the head of QVC – the shopping network that put Joy on the map. It’s easy to see why Cooper was attracted to the fast-talking pitchman part as it feels like a logical follow-up to his role in AMERICAN HUSTLE, but again, just like Lawrence and De Niro it feels like he’s playing a caricature rather than a flesh and blood person.

All this said, Russell’s clearly tried to make something other than the usual Hollywood biopic and by embracing the soapy aspects of it and emphasizing the artificial he’s made a unique film. However, it’s also a manic one and a tough thing to invest in emotionally, which is a shame as Mangano’s story is excellent. While JOY is nonetheless entertaining, it feels like an exercise in style over substance and for all Russell’s effort to give this a Scorsese-like epic feel, it lacks the intimacy of Scorsese’s own ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (in a nie nod to that film, Diane Ladd gets a nice supporting part). Obviously though, this is just one critic’s opinion and it’s possible X-Mas audiences will love O.Russell’s approach, but while it worked in AMERICAN HUSTLE, given how strange the actual caper was they were covering, this approach does not lend itself to a more intimate story.

Source: JoBlo.com

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1:45AM on 12/25/2015

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought it was manic

There were times when I thought I blacked out and missed something because things were happening way too fast.

Personally, I had no problem with Jennifer Lawrence. I thought she did great. To each his own.
There were times when I thought I blacked out and missed something because things were happening way too fast.

Personally, I had no problem with Jennifer Lawrence. I thought she did great. To each his own.
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-1
4:11PM on 12/23/2015
Can we get wesley snipes as blade to show up in deadpool? Blade, Deadpool, and Colussus, man that'd be the shit
Can we get wesley snipes as blade to show up in deadpool? Blade, Deadpool, and Colussus, man that'd be the shit
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7:02AM on 12/23/2015

Surprise!!

Jennifer Lawrence being too young to play her character in a David O Russell movie, never thought I'd see the day!
Great actress and pretty good director, but she was way too young for her characters in Silver Linings and American Hustle too and indeed Martin Scorsese lite (XTRA LITE I'd even say) seems like the perfect description of his Lawrence starring movies.
Jennifer Lawrence being too young to play her character in a David O Russell movie, never thought I'd see the day!
Great actress and pretty good director, but she was way too young for her characters in Silver Linings and American Hustle too and indeed Martin Scorsese lite (XTRA LITE I'd even say) seems like the perfect description of his Lawrence starring movies.
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6:33AM on 12/23/2015
I had a feeling that this was going to be his miss. I thought "American Hustle" was a good movie. "The Fighter" was amazing and I still stand by my belief that "Silver Linings Playbook" is one of, if not the best, romantic comedies to come out in the last decade. It was a believable story, with two amazing leads, that avoided the typical beats of the genre and gave us something unforgettable.
I had a feeling that this was going to be his miss. I thought "American Hustle" was a good movie. "The Fighter" was amazing and I still stand by my belief that "Silver Linings Playbook" is one of, if not the best, romantic comedies to come out in the last decade. It was a believable story, with two amazing leads, that avoided the typical beats of the genre and gave us something unforgettable.
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+0
3:40AM on 12/23/2015
Wow. When j clicked on this I thought am I the only one who prefers Russell's first films to his wannabe Scorsese ones? I don't get it. They aren't bad, but is the fighter memorable? Could most Hollywood directors do it?

Also, I bet this will bomb
Wow. When j clicked on this I thought am I the only one who prefers Russell's first films to his wannabe Scorsese ones? I don't get it. They aren't bad, but is the fighter memorable? Could most Hollywood directors do it?

Also, I bet this will bomb
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5:01AM on 12/23/2015
While I agree with most of your comment, I'd say American Hustle is WAY more forgettable than the fighter.
While I agree with most of your comment, I'd say American Hustle is WAY more forgettable than the fighter.
+3
5:21PM on 12/08/2015

Russell has not made a great film since Three Kings, and I don't think he ever will again.

American Hustle was an overrated mess of a movie. Joy looks almost no different than any of his three previous films. Also, re-using the same actors over and over and over doesn't really help at this point. This needs to be the last time Russell makes a film starring Lawerence, Cooper, and De Niro. At the very least make the next two films with different actors for a change. Personally, I think his recycling of casting members is a testament to how difficult Russell is to work with.
American Hustle was an overrated mess of a movie. Joy looks almost no different than any of his three previous films. Also, re-using the same actors over and over and over doesn't really help at this point. This needs to be the last time Russell makes a film starring Lawerence, Cooper, and De Niro. At the very least make the next two films with different actors for a change. Personally, I think his recycling of casting members is a testament to how difficult Russell is to work with.
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5:18PM on 12/23/2015
You have taken the words right out of my mouth.
You have taken the words right out of my mouth.
+1
12:32AM on 12/08/2015
Looks like typical Oscar-baity boring shlock crap. Pass....
Looks like typical Oscar-baity boring shlock crap. Pass....
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6:09PM on 12/07/2015

It's about time

that reviewers are noticing that J-Law is incredibly miscast in these movies (American Hustle, Silver Linings, Joy) from the moment she was 19, playing a Mid 30's character who is either someones Mistress with a child or a widower and dating Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale etc. It makes as much sense as Justin Bieber being Angelina Jolies husband in By the Sea. She's a great actress but I t hink David O Russell is just obsessed with her.
that reviewers are noticing that J-Law is incredibly miscast in these movies (American Hustle, Silver Linings, Joy) from the moment she was 19, playing a Mid 30's character who is either someones Mistress with a child or a widower and dating Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale etc. It makes as much sense as Justin Bieber being Angelina Jolies husband in By the Sea. She's a great actress but I t hink David O Russell is just obsessed with her.
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+6
1:58PM on 12/07/2015
Looks like a load of pretentious rubbish.
Looks like a load of pretentious rubbish.
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1:48PM on 12/07/2015
Saw the trailer for this, and it doesn't excite me one bit.
Saw the trailer for this, and it doesn't excite me one bit.
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12:37PM on 12/07/2015
Really looking forward to this. The trailers have done a great job of selling it without giving too much away, and after The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle, expectations are high high for this one. Plus, the trio of Lawrence, Cooper, and DeNiro are all a treat to watch, so I'm hoping we get to see numerous scenes where all three of their characters interact with one another.
Really looking forward to this. The trailers have done a great job of selling it without giving too much away, and after The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle, expectations are high high for this one. Plus, the trio of Lawrence, Cooper, and DeNiro are all a treat to watch, so I'm hoping we get to see numerous scenes where all three of their characters interact with one another.
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4:27PM on 12/07/2015
Fully agree with you on this. O. Russell seems to have fine-tuned the manic promise of his earlier films into more broadly appealing pictures without compromising the integrity of the films themselves. A lot of that has to do with the aforementioned trio who work really well off each other and in this director's playground. If it's anything like the preceding 3 films, I can't wait.
Fully agree with you on this. O. Russell seems to have fine-tuned the manic promise of his earlier films into more broadly appealing pictures without compromising the integrity of the films themselves. A lot of that has to do with the aforementioned trio who work really well off each other and in this director's playground. If it's anything like the preceding 3 films, I can't wait.
5:48PM on 12/07/2015
Hey, thanks.

Couldn't agree more.
Hey, thanks.

Couldn't agree more.
12:32PM on 12/07/2015
Is it too soon to suggest David O. Russell to stand trial for movie jail? He hasn't made an outright bad film, but after The Fighter Ive enjoyed his work quite a bit less and less with each film he puts out.
Is it too soon to suggest David O. Russell to stand trial for movie jail? He hasn't made an outright bad film, but after The Fighter Ive enjoyed his work quite a bit less and less with each film he puts out.
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12:00PM on 12/07/2015
I don't know if it's the trailers themselves (which are awesome, but don't tell us anything about Joy Mangano or her Miracle Mop), or the feeling that Russell is becoming over-reliant on the same actors. I'm not even sure I trust this review (no offense Chris), but I have been detecting audiences are cooling to the brand Russell has been selling since Silver Linings Playbook. Anyway, I do miss the old Russell. The man can do pretty much anything from broad comedy to action, so I hope he takes
I don't know if it's the trailers themselves (which are awesome, but don't tell us anything about Joy Mangano or her Miracle Mop), or the feeling that Russell is becoming over-reliant on the same actors. I'm not even sure I trust this review (no offense Chris), but I have been detecting audiences are cooling to the brand Russell has been selling since Silver Linings Playbook. Anyway, I do miss the old Russell. The man can do pretty much anything from broad comedy to action, so I hope he takes on more diverse work in the future.
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