Granger on Movies: ‘Joy’
Published 8:51 am, Sunday, December 27, 2015
Fairfield Citizen film critic Susan Granger reviews the new movie, “Joy.”
Writer/director David O. Russell (“The Fighter,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle”) has garnered three Best Director and Best Picture Academy Award nominations within four years. But I suspect he won’t be an Oscar contender this year.
Problem is, it’s a movie about a mop.
From the time she was a child, Joy Mangano (Lawrence) has been an inventor. Living with her musician ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) and their two children, she’s a single mother trying to support her dysfunctional, extended family, which includes her soap-opera-obsessed mother (Virginia Madsen), cantankerous father (De Niro), resentful half-sister (Elisabeth Rohm) and beloved grandmother (Diane Ladd).
Frustrated while cleaning up spilled red wine, Joy has the idea for a self-wringing Miracle Mop: a simple device incorporating a plastic handle and a head made from a continuous loop of 300 feet of cotton.
Determined to manufacture it, she convinces her father’s wealthy new lover (Isabella Rossellini) to be her financial backer, giving her seed money for a prototype, which she takes to TV’s QVC, where she must convince a dismissive corporate executive (Cooper) to take a chance on her product.
Scripted as a biopic by director Russell and Annie Mumolo, the story is awkwardly told and unevenly paced. As a result, the precarious turmoil feels contrived, never achieving a shred of emotional authenticity. Perhaps that’s why there are four different film editors listed in the credits.
While Jennifer Lawrence ferociously inhabited fictional Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games,” she doesn’t seem to relate to real-life Joy Mangano, tenaciously grappling with one obstacle after another, determined to achieve her version of the American Dream.
In an amusing cameo, Melissa Rivers plays her late mother, delivering classically Joan wisecracks to Joy, who now holds more than 100 patents.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Joy” is a scattered 7, resonating most clearly with women who relate to Joy’s repression and battle for basic equality.