The last two years the pairing of Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have produced 2 major box office & year end award successes in “Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle”. When I saw previews for their latest pairing in “Joy”, I definitely put it on my list.
“Joy” came out several weeks ago and hence I inadvertently overheard feedback from folks or caught glimpse of reviews in the newspapers. Clearly it sounded like audiences liked the film more than the critics and no doubt I was still in game to go see.
So I go see the film about 2 weeks after it came out at a matinee show. The theatre was 100% sold out except for 1 seat in the front row/middle (I took it and sat on the floor in the back corner of the theater which was fine). But what a statement about audience likability of this film which also included Robert DeNiro in a supporting role.
This was one of those films that if it starred any other actress, it just won’t have worked. This is not a real comfortable or even empathic movie “on the surface”. Joy is class valediction who goes off to a 4 year school only to come home to help useless Mom go thru a divorce who stays in room all day smoking and watching soap operas.
Joy then gets married, gets divorced, has 2 kids, has dead-end jobs and shoulders everybody’s problems. In “her” house lives, loser Mom, ex-husband, complicated Dad and 2 kids. She is the only one working, cleaning, parenting (both her kids and her parents), yet though totally exasperated shows an amazing maturity, grace & perseverance.
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Her grandmother (Diane Ladd) has seen Joy’s brilliance and potential from a very early age and is a quiet loyal supporter throughout. It is her belief in Joy and Joy’s subsequent believe that there was something better out there for herself led her to invent an As Seen on TV (remember QVC) product that goes through many highs and lows to get it to market.
Only today did I learn that this movie was loosely based on true story of inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano. Regardless, watching “Joy” the complexities of her “lulu” family while navigating the stifling obstacles of inventing a product that you can bring to market and become successful was enjoyable. The entire audience was rooting for “Joy” simply because she did things the right way, her way, makes her journey even more engaging.
Cooper plays a very successful Home Shopping TV executive with a gift for selecting home run products and then choreographing the sale of the item on the show to bring in big sales #’s. He has a nice little supportive role who sees something in Joy’s product and drive (but a quite a minor role compared to their previous pairings).
Again, I don’t know what other actress could have pulled off the this uber quirky role, but she does an excellent job. Lawrence shows endless quiet determination to achieve her dreams in a way that is so different from many ugly business headlines today and hence we root like hell for her.