Cast includes: Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Édgar Ramírez (The Bourne Ultimatum), Diane Ladd (Primary Colors), Virginia Madsen (Sideways), Isabella Rossellini (Enemy), Dascha Polanco (Orange is the New Black), Elisabeth Röhm (American Hustle)
Director: David O. Russell (American Hustle, The Fighter)
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Biography (124 minutes)
“When someone sees weakness in me, I turn that weakness into strength,” says Clarinda in Guiding Light, one of the soap operas Joy’s mom watches everyday. Mimi, Joy’s grandmother, always told her, “You are going to grow up to be a fine young woman.” Mimi has always had faith in Joy’s creativity and ability to make things. Joy’s family is both a source of strength and chaotic dysfunction. “I’m returning him to you,” says Sharon as she deposits Rudy, Joy’s father, on Joy’s doorstep. Joy certainly doesn’t have room for yet another family member. Her mother lives in the living room, watching TV all day. Her ex-husband lives in the basement, while Joy and her 2 kids try to live as normal a life as possible. Rudy will have to share the basement with Tony… even though they hate each other. Joy makes a dividing line through the basement and hopes they won’t kill each other while she’s at work as an airline desk attendant.
Joy also does the books for the family business, Rudy’s garage. It doesn’t take long for Rudy to connect with a possible new girlfriend, Trudy. (Yes, Rudy and Trudy) Anyway, Trudy is a widow, and her late husband, Morris, left her quite well off. Sometimes, Joy feels like everyone else does exactly what they want, but she’s been stuck in neutral for years. In flashbacks, we see when Joy first met Tony. She tells him about the things she used to invent… before she put her life on hold for 17 years. Anyway, Tony is a singer and thinks he’s going to be the next Tom Jones. Rudy gives Joy’s marriage 50/50 odds… and now ex-husband Tony is living in the basement because he never became Tom Jones and hasn’t figured out another plan. Through all the craziness, it’s obvious that Joy is a problem solver… it would be great if she could turn some of her inventions into a business. Morris’s yacht is where Joy gets the idea for another invention… and that get’s her thinking about asking Trudy for a loan and using Rudy’s garage for her assembly line.
Joy’s invention actually does turn into a business, but the road is full of potholes and detours. While she draws strength from her family, sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s side they’re on. As it turns out, she has to learn to navigate her own path… while not upsetting complex family dynamics. The movie is based on the real life story of inventor Joy Mangano, who invented the Miracle Mop and turned it into a business by selling it on a TV shopping channel. It’s an inspirational story and a beautifully made film. It has a great cast and all of them do a wonderful job. Jennifer Lawrence continues to amaze us with outstanding performances in roles that are totally different from her previous work. “My late Morris made me promise never to be neglectful with even one dime of his hard earned money,” says Trudy when Joy asks for the loan. Joy is going to have to develop a killer instinct… “The world doesn’t owe us anything.”
3 popped kernels
Based on the life story of Joy Mangano, who invented the Miracle Mop and built a business with commonsense inventions for common problems
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Miracle Mop inventor
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Informative