Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Rohm
Released: December 25, 2015
Viewed in theaters: December 29, 2015
I saw this movie with my friend Cameron. He has joined me for a couple of video reviews you've all had the pleasure to watch. (All fifteen of you, haha!) You may remember our video reviews of the last two Twilight movies. We were originally going to see Sisters, but it was already sold out for the evening shows, so we decided to see this one instead. (And before you ask, we didn't even consider seeing Star Wars: A New Hope and Force Awakens or whatever it's called!) In a way, I think it worked out for the best because I probably wouldn't have seen this movie until it was released on DVD and I'm glad I saw it in the theater because I really enjoyed it. I had no idea what this movie was about going in. I just assumed it was a Christmas movie since it opened on Christmas Day and was called Joy, but, spoiler alert....it's not! (Although there is a scene that takes place at Christmas). We joked that it was the sequel to Silver Linings Playbook since it had the same director and Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper were in it.
The "Joy" in question is the name of our main character (Jennifer Lawrence). This movie is based on the true story of a woman named Joy Mangano (never heard of her!) She's struggling with her finances and being a young, single mother of two while living with her grandmother (Diane Ladd), her mother (Virginia Madsen), and her ex-husband, who she's still friendly with, lives in the basement. At first, I thought her mother was sick and bedridden because all she did was stay in her room and watch soap operas, but later in the movie, she's walking around with no problem. There seemed to be something off mentally with her mother.
Joy works at an airport but has to quit when they change her hours and she can't work those because of her kids. She and her older half-sister, Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm who I didn't recognize at all because she had dark hair) help out at their dad's (Robert De Niro) auto-repair shop. Rudy, their dad, who has been married twice and is all about being in love, has joined a dating service. At first, I was so confused by this scene because he would call a number and leave a four digit number and a voice would give him a four digit number of a potential match and he would call that number and talk to the woman. It seemed very complicated. I was wondering, Why doesn't he just join eHarmony or Match.com? Then I remembered that this being based on a true story, it probably isn't "current" day! (I don't remember if it gives us a date, but I'm guessing it started out in the late '80s/early '90s). He meets Trudy (Isabella Rossellini) and they are just having a laugh over their rhyming names. Trudy is a widow of a wealthy businessman and she and Rudy hit it off quite well that she invites Rudy and his family to spend the day on her yacht. She tells him to bring the wine, but not red wine because it will stain the teakwood floors. Joy's ex, Anthony, who is well-meaning, brings a bottle of red wine. It ends up spilling (who didn't see that coming?) and Joy mops the deck, but when she wrings out the mop with her hands she gets lots of nasty cuts with the glass shards. This inspires her to come up with an idea for a mop where one doesn't have to wring it out with their hands and the mop head is detectable and can be thrown in the washing machine. The year is 1995 when the finished product is ready. I can tell I have never mopped until the 21st century. I have never in my life even known of a mop that you had to wring out with your own hands. Never mind glass shards, who would want to touch that nasty mop head with the dirty water? Ewww!
She patents the design and has some prototypes made with some money she asked Trudy to invest in (Trudy agreed after Joy passed the test she gave her). Unfortunately, when she tries to take it to stores and sell them, her product gets declined. One man tells her that he doesn't want to sell a mop for twenty dollars to his customers that will last a lifetime when he can sell five or ten dollar mops that will need replacing every few years and that way the customers will have to keep coming back. Joy and her friend Jackie try to sell the mop outside a K-Mart by Jackie being the salesperson and Joy being someone who is being sold the mop. They get a crowd of curious onlookers who seem to like the mop, but are quickly caught by the police and the mop is confiscated.
It kept bugging me whenever I saw Jackie because the actress looked so familiar and I knew that I knew her from somewhere, but I just couldn't place it! When I looked her up, I realized it was Daya from Orange is the New Black. She has such a distinct accent and distinct facial features, but I guess she's unrecognizable to me if she's not in her prison garbs or pregnant, haha!
Joy arranges to meet with Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), an executive at QVC. When he sees and hears about the mop, he tells Joy to have twenty thousand of them made and Joy has to take out a second mortgage on her house. She still owes Trudy money and Trudy does not want to invest any more until she knows the mop will make money. Neil takes Joy on a tour of the set and tells her they only have celebrities hawking the products. The only celebrity I recognized was Joan Rivers. She is played by Melissa Rivers who looks EXACTLY like her mother (perfect casting, right?), but I don't think she has her mother's voice down...she tried, but Joan had a very distinct sound to her voice.
There's a big scene at Joy's house where everyone is gathered in the living room to watch the big debut of Joy's mop and I just knew something bad was going to happen. And it did! The guy promoting it had no idea how to use it! They get no calls or questions for the mop and they go straight to the next product (the most hideous evening gowns I've ever seen!) The whole segment is less than twenty seconds! Did they not give the guy a tutorial on how the mop is used? Not surprisingly, Joy is pissed. At first I thought Neil was trying to sabotage Joy, but that doesn't make any sense because they want their products to sell. I watch Shark Tank; I know how it works! Joy goes to the QVC office and demand the she be the one to sell it on TV. She does and they sell like hot cakes.
This, however, is not the end of Joy's troubles. She still has a rack of debt to pay and she finds out that the manufacturing company is taking credit for her designs. There's a bunch of legal battles she's fighting. She goes through one obstacle after another. There are several times when she just wants to give up, but by the end she fights for what is hers and emerges victorious. We see her in the future, in her forties, helping others patent their ideas. (Why is this woman not on Shark Tank?) I got a very Cate Blachett-like vibe from an older made-up Jennifer Lawrence.
Cameron and I both agreed that this was our favorite Jennifer Lawrence performance. I have not seen the last two Hunger Games movies, but I hated the last book so I'm willing to bet that's not going to change my mind.
During the movie, somebody behind us started snoring! Really loudly! It was quite distracting. And then all of his friends were giggling so that made it even more annoying. This movie was not boring at all so I don't know what his problem was. I guess that was bound to happen at a theater where you can recline all the way back in the seats. They even have a commercial for the theaters of some old guy in his pajamas telling his son he's ready to see the movie. Like, are they trying to encourage people to fall asleep and snore and annoy people who are trying to watch the movie? Great marketing! (That was sarcasm in case you couldn't tell!)