The one thing about American Hustle that was off-putting was that it wasn’t as brilliant as everyone made it out to be. A good description was that it felt like a high school project by the popular crowd that everyone said was amazing … and wound up being good but not the world-changing spectacle it’s been made out to be. And a large portion of the same cast came back for Joy, an underwhelming follow up piece that managed to snag Jennifer Lawrence another Oscar nomination but find itself largely looking in from the outside during awards season.
A biopic of Joy Mangano (Lawrence), the inventor of the Miracle Mop, the film follows her trials and tribulations as the Mop itself wound up becoming an overnight hit on the Home Shopping Network. The road to get there was long, of course, and the film is concerned mainly with her life beforehand. It’s in the struggle, with everything seemingly lined up against her, where we find the Long Island entrepreneur in Joy.
The film’s main problem is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be in large swathes. It’s part screwball comedy, part dark drama and part inspirational biopic and none of the parts seem to match. It feels like David O. Russell wanted to bring back as much of the Hustle cast as possible without regard to fit; the film has a feel of one in which it was cast for actors and not cast for fit.
The one part he did get right was Lawrence, who tries to carry the film on her shoulders but can’t quite make it all the way. It’s not her best performance, as it has the feeling of an Oscar nomination because of a weak field (and they needed someone on the marquee that was recognizable) as opposed to being one of the five best performances of the year, but it’ll be one that’ll be on the ouside of the team picture as one of her best.
Everyone else is fairly uninspired, acting wise, as Russell doesn’t get strong performances out of anyone but Lawrence. Her performance matters because the film revolves around Joy. Everyone else falls to the wayside because Lawrence has been given the sort of film waiting for a powerful, transcendent performance that she can’t provide.
Joy is a prestige film that will be quickly forgotten in the long run because it’s not that good.
There’s a handful of EPK pieces but nothing special.
20th Century Fox presents Joy. Written and Directed by David O. Russell. Written by Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez. Running Length: 124 minutes . Released: May 3, 2016.
Tags: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Joy, Robert De Niro