A story of a family across four generations, centered on the girl who becomes the woman who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence). Facing betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise in a world of unforgiving commerce. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.
You’ve probably heard of this story before. A rags-to-riches story with someone started from the lowest of the lows and pulled themselves up from their bootstraps and finally became someone of importance. So the story of this film is pretty much that. Joy (Lawrence) lives in a house with her mother Terry (Virginia Madsen), her father Rudy (Robert De Niro), her grandmother (Diane Ladd), her ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez), and her children. She is broke and her life is in a rut while she is putting her own dreams on hold while she takes care of her divorced parents. Her life soon begins to change once she comes up with an invention that will change her and her family’s life forever. This film chronicles how Joy manages her own life, her dysfunctional family, and her own family through a series of obstacles and hardships until she eventually becomes successful. I said that this kind of story is familiar and it does not bring that much more to the table. It approaches this concept in a cliche way in that since the film is based on the life of a real person, Joy Mangano, the story is predictable in that most probably know the end result but some (including me) may not know how she got there. It was a fun ride though as the members of Joy’s family were interesting characters to say the least. Joy’s mother (Madsen) is a recluse who wears dated clothing and always stays in her room watching cheesy soap operas. What was fun about that was that they weren’t just any soap operas, they were original soap operas made for this film. They were ridiculously cheesy. Joy’s grandmother (Ladd) was the encouraging voice in the background and also provided some narration for the film. Joy’s ex-husband Tony (Ramirez) was a slacker-type who redeems himself later on. Joy’s father Rudy (De Niro) was a conflicted but with a big heart and also provided some of the film’s comedic moments. I thought they had great chemistry including a character named Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), who appears later on, but their purpose was to support Joy. Lawrence was great here in the leading role providing a great performance, developing her character over time, staying strong throughout all of the hardships in her life. The film does jump between time periods show the development of Joy. The one problem with the film is that the film is a little convenient at how it goes about things. Things seemed to come a little too easy for her which may or may not be an accurate representation of how life works. It also glamorizes money meaning that money is equivalent to success which may or may not be how the world works either. Be that as it may, this is still an entertaining two hours thanks to Lawrence’s performance who elevates the film’s material.