The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Joy | Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Ladd, Elisabeth Röhm, Melissa Rivers | Review

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3 Chicks Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Joy | Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Ladd, Elisabeth Röhm, Melissa Rivers | Review

The life of QVC entrepreneur and inventor Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) is very loosely chronicled in writer/director David O. Russell’s (American Hustle) latest effort.  Narrated by her grandmother (Diane Ladd) the film attempts to make Joy out to be some sort of visionary trapped within a household of kooky relatives including an ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) who lives in the basement of her home.

Joy is the dreamer, the doer, the fixer in a family that includes a dopey, TV-addicted mother (Virginia Madsen) a scheming father (Robert De Niro) his somber lady friend (Isabella Rossellini) a competitive half-sister (Elisabeth Röhm) and two young children for whom she is the sole support, ex-husband in basement notwithstanding.

When she invents a self-wringing mop with a detachable head (with 300 feet of looped cotton, yet!) that can be thrown in the washer, Joy sets out to get her invention seen and sold on television, aided by her ex, who is a surprising source of support when her blood relatives prove to be flawed, critical naysayers.

Although that first ex-enabled appointment results in a last-minute blow-off, Joy bursts into a meeting with QVC honcho Neal Walker (Bradley Cooper, Lawrence’s frequent co-star) and convinces him of her mop’s superiority despite its cheap plastic handle.  All that sounds plausible enough – even the ex in the basement – but the first inept demonstration of the mop by a pitchman for QVC would NEVER have been allowed to air, and it is insulting to ask us to believe it.

Overlooked, swindled, and dismissed, Joy has to fight every inch of the way to get a fair manufacturing contract and representation on the QVC channel.  Her wacky clan is only moderately supportive, getting in her way nearly as often as assisting her efforts.

The film’s first half is a scattered, zany Joy-ride – pun intended - that seems to like the intentional mess it creates, accompanying it with various pop songs and behavior as loopy as the mop itself.  It gets better at the mid-point, when Joy’s determination and sometimes guerilla tactics begin to pay off, but unfortunately ends up as a clichéd fable, as invented as one of our plucky heroine’s products.

Jennifer Lawrence heads a talented cast that tries mightily to make the messy script work.  Melissa Rivers plays her mother Joan, touting chunky costume jewelry as if it were right behind food and shelter in the necessities of life.  More like this please.

Writer/director David O. Russell (American Hustle) who co-wrote the screenplay with Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids) even inserts soap opera parodies (Susan Lucci stars) presumably to reflect Joy’s travails and to complement the sale of products on networks designed to tell housewives what they need.

Joy’s story should have been mesmerizing.  It is, after all, the very essence of the American Dream.  To squander its potential with scattered, near slapstick performances diminishes the actors and disappoints the audience.  That’ll teach us to buy something on reputation only.

Note:  The original self-wringing Miracle Mop ad can be seen on YouTube, back when Joy Mangano was a brunette.  Lawrence is a luminous blonde here, just one of several liberties taken with the entrepreneur’s life.  Russell’s inventor, it turns out, is also his invention. - get some good Joomla extensions now!



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