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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 18, 2016

Joy Movie Review: Jennifer Lawrence In Another Oscar-Nominated Performance Directed By David Russell

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, Bradley Cooper and Robert de Niro all got nominated for Oscars (Jennifer even won) when they first worked with Director David Russell in “Silver Linings Playbook”. Now, they’re all together again in “Joy”, based on the true story of Joy Mangano, a Long Island housewife who designed and hit it big in inventing the self-wringing Miracle Mop as advertised on Home Shopping TV in the 1990s. This time, it’s only who Jennifer who is nominated in the Oscars, and rightfully so, as she’s the only with a real arresting role in the movie.

Joy is a separated wife taking care of her two children, her useless mom (Virginia Madsen) who just watches soap operas in bed all day and her grandmother (Diane Ladd), who’s the narrator. She feels responsible for her entire family, including her estranged singer husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez) who still lives in her basement even if they’ve been divorced, and her own dad Rudy (de Niro), who’s also separated from her mom and has even found a new girlfriend (Isabella Rosellini, who looks like she has matured quickly, unlike her mom Ingrid Bergman).

Joy is a smart, spunky young woman who keeps on trying to invent gadgets. At first, even her own dad won’t believe in her. But she manages to make her miracle mops on her own then gets to persuade home shopping TV channel executive Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper, in what’s actually a supporting role with limited exposure) to allow her to be her product’s own model on TV ads, and the product sells.

But just as when success seems at hand, the cut throat world of business intrudes with questions of ownership that suddenly crop up, threatening to derail Joy’s success and throw her into bankruptcy. But Joy is a courageous David ready to fight the Goliath about to cheat her. Joy’s confrontation with the villain who claims to own her patent is treated stylishly like a western and is very well staged.

As the underdog Joy, you really get to cheer for Jennifer. She nails the role and succeeds in capturing the fortitude and determination of her character and she’s consistently credible all throughout. Her range is actually amazing, from being Katniss in the “Hunger Games” movies to “Silver Linings”, “American Hustle” and this.

The movie itself, though, won’t win the kind of lavish critical acclaim that Russell’s past films earned, like “Silver Linings”, “The Fighter” and “American Hustle”, which are bigger and grander in scope. But it’s obvious Russell had so much fun casting few real life soap opera stars like Susan Lucci and Laura Wright in a phony soap opera often watched by Joy’s mom. And he even manages to throw in a musical number with Joy and ex-husband singing the Sinatra classic “Something Stupid”.