Film & Television

‘Joy:’ J-Law Mops Up a Messy Movie

When friends and colleagues heard I was going to see and write about Joy, the David O. Russell rags-to-riches movie that opened Christmas day, I heard mixed reviews, ranging from “I loved it!” to “Don’t bother.” Critics have been equally polarized. The Boston Herald enthused “Jumping for ‘Joy:’ Jennifer Lawrence Gives Spotless Performance.” But, most critics deemed the film itself “uneven” at best. Esquire came right out with “We Finally Learned If Jennifer Lawrence Can Be in a Terrible Movie.” Ouch.

Starring the impressive young actress (and Oscar-winner), Joy is inspired by real-life entrepreneur Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop. Her tale is a sort of Cinderella story, and the movie itself is one hot mess, a jagged sloppy thing that mixes over-the-top comedy and near-tragedy haphazardly edited together. Yet, there are two very good reasons to see it.

First, Jennifer Lawrence transcends the material. Joy may not be her best movie, but that doesn’t stop her from turning in a mesmerizing performance. In her short career, we’ve come to expect great things from J-Law, and she doesn’t disappoint. Apparently, the Hollywood Foreign Press agrees because they gave her a Golden Globe for Joy two days ago.

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Second, how often does Hollywood turn out a film about a powerful woman who succeeds against every odd you can think of (and some you never would) — and without a man? Not very often.

As a child (the nicely cast Isabella Crovetti-Cramp), Joy invented imaginary worlds of cut paper and shoeboxes to entertain her half-sister, Peggy. “Now, all you need is a prince,” Peggy tells her. “I don’t need a prince,” Joy asserts, “I have magic powers.” She’s certainly a gifted girl, graduating valedictorian from high school, but life rudely interrupts her aspirations. She doesn’t go to college so she can help her parents get through an ugly divorce. Flash forward a few years and she’s a single-mother, supporting not just her children, but every member of her extended family. READ MORE

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