Joy’s family is a special kind of dysfunctional. Joy (played by Jennifer Lawrence) has four generations living under he roof (her grandmother, mother and her own children). Oh, and her ex-husband still lives in the basement. She’s holding down the only solid job in the family. Her mother is a self-imposed shut-in obsessed with soap operas and wearing fancy dresses. Oh, and her father was just dropped off by his second wife, igniting old wars between her divorced parents. Things are hectic for Joy, and she knows something has to change.
That’s when Joy gets an idea that will change the fortunes of the family. She invents a product, and we get to follow her on the journey from the spark of imagination to selling the product live on television. Everyone wants a piece of the fortune that Joy doesn’t even have yet, and she faces treachery and betrayal as she strives to keep her quirky family together.
Joy is the third film from director David O. Russell that stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Sadly the magic trio has lost some of that special formula shown in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. The film is still entertaining, even electrifying at some points. Jennifer Lawrence pulls off her role with fantastic acting. The real flaw in the film is the odd plot arrangement. There are quirky little clips of a soap opera interspersed in the film, and in the first and second act they feel like they’re building to something, but ultimately that subplot vanishes and feels puzzlingly pointless.
The characters are heartwarming and will have you smiling throughout. I really did love some of the scenes, which I think will be seen as iconic as the film goes down in the our cultural memory. The climax really sells the film, and you get to feel some real exhilaration on behalf of Joy as her successes play out, and you’ll have the wind knocked out of you as the insurmountable challenges stack up against her. Who knew that a movie about selling shows on a television shopping network could be this interesting?