CineMarter
Joy - Jennifer Lawrence Invents the Miracle Mop, Needs No Man

Marter | 3 Jan 2016 12:00
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It suffers from some pacing and tonal issues, as well as annoying family drama and less-than-stellar acting from anyone not named Jennifer Lawrence.

What Joy does best is act as an inspirational, empowering story - doing so without any hesitation or apology. Early in the film, it's declared that Joy's superpower is that she "doesn't need a prince," and that's something that remains true for its entirety. Lawrence and Cooper may have been romantic companions a couple of times in the last few years, but in this film that's never even considered to be a possibility. This is a story about a woman doing what she wants, how she wants, and it stays faithful to that throughout. There's no obligatory romance, there's no point at which she can't get herself out of a predicament - often something she didn't even cause - and it's refreshing to see a film that has no problems doing that. If there's one thing to praise about Joy, this is it.

Okay, maybe there are two things to praise. Jennifer Lawrence is also excellent in the title role, even though she's close to a decade younger than the real Joy was at that period of her life - and that gap in age gets even worse when the film fast forwards through time to when Joy is a success. (Playing with time also makes the ending lose some of its luster.) But, regardless of the age gap, Lawrence's powerful and determined performance will keep you interested. She'll likely get an Oscar nomination - although if she wins this year, it'll be undeserved - and she's well worth watching.

The rest of the cast, though? They feel more like they're going through the motions than anything else. Robert De Niro hasn't exactly been consistently good for a while now, but he's worse in Joy than he was earlier this year in The Intern. Edgar Ramirez, at least, reminds us that he's not always as bad as he was in the same-week-release Point Break, but he's not exactly great here, either. Bradley Cooper probably has the best supporting performance, but he's not stretching to play a fast-talking executive at QVC. Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Rohm, Dascha Polanco, and Melissa Rivers (playing her mother) round out the cast, but most of them are footnotes and not all that memorable.

Joy is a passable movie that should have been better. It suffers from some pacing and tonal issues, as well as annoying family drama and less-than-stellar acting from anyone not named Jennifer Lawrence. This is a story that I now believe should have been made into a feature-length movie, but I'm not convinced this was the crew to do it. This is an inspirational and empowering movie that's bogged down by things that likely didn't need to be there. It's not going to anger anyone by existing, but it's also a little disappointing, all things considered.

Bottom Line: A disappointing but still serviceable movie, Joy doesn't have much of its titular word, but it does serve as an inspirational and empowering film, even if it's bogged down with stuff that didn't need to be there.

Recommendation: If you want a quirky comedy-drama about the woman who invented the Miracle Mop, as well as some annoying family drama, watch Joy.

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If you want more of Matthew "Marter" Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.

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