Joy Movie Review

The year is almost over. Just a few more reviews before I can release my Top 20 Movies of 2015. I have almost seen every movie of the year that I want to see before I make that list, and after seeing a few movies over the weekend, I’ve gotten a little bit closer to knowing what will go on that list. First up from the weekend we have the new movie from David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro called Joy Really, I didn’t see a whole lot from Joy from a marketing standpoint outside previews before movies, but just about every time I saw a movie in a theater, I saw a preview for Joy. After the movies that David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper have come together for in American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, I was pretty excited for this movie. David O. Russell also directed The Fighter. Those three movies racked up twenty-five Oscar nominations while winning three of those. All three were for acting, and the 2013 Best Actress in a Leading Role award went to Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. I own and like all three of those movies, so I was excited for this movie. The first and foremost job of a director of a film is to pull the best performances from his or her actors, and David O. Russell does an absolutely phenomenal job with that aspect of a movie. I assumed that Joy could be an Oscar contender. With that said, let’s get to business.

Jennifer Lawrence as Joy

Joy is, of course, directed by David O. Russell and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, and Edgar Ramirez. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Joy, a mother of two as working to check customers in for an airline. All of her life she has been through family hardships and a failed marriage, and she doesn’t want to just be house wife who helps her father, played by Robert DeNiro, with accounting and financing. She wants to make something of herself. As she has always been a creative mind, she decides to invent a mop to help mothers like her. Joy is the real life story of the real Joy and her struggles to become successful. I will say I had a really great time with Joy. It wasn’t something I didn’t expect as I really like David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro, but I really don’t think I was expecting to like it as much as I actually did.

Jennifer Lawrence as Joy in the 2015 film Joy

First I have to mention Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. Jennifer Lawrence was absolutely brilliant in this movie. She is an Oscar-winning actress and maybe the most popular actress in Hollywood today, and there’s a reason. She does such a great job as a character going through different phases and showing compassion for her family and those around her. She shifts through her life both physically and emotionally, and I had such a great time watching her grow and become who she turned out to be by the end of the movie. I also loved how the story progressed through her. I loved watching her story and watching her grow. I also thought that the rest of the cast gave great performances. I really like Bradley Cooper as an actor, and he seems to always get better and stronger with each movie whether his role is big or small. Robert DeNiro also was very good. That almost goes without saying at this point in DeNiro’s career, but he was very good nonetheless. Unfortunately, that’s where my positivity stops with Joy.

Jennifer Lawrence as Joy (left) and Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker (right)

As much as I loved Joy, I did not like the other characters. Even the characters who were on Joy’s side and had her back were so uninteresting to me and carried almost no depth or weight. They were just over the top, and they did not seem real to me. I liked Robert DeNiro’s performance, but I did not like his character. To me, he felt like a plot device, and that’s not something I look for in a movie. I want characters like Joy who feed into the plot and use the plot to develop. A character who I especially did not like was Joy’s sister, Peggy, played by Elisabeth Röhm. She was always butting heads with Joy, and there was really no reason for it. She seemed to be in the story just to rival Joy, and the further we progress through the movie, the more I hated seeing her on the screen. I didn’t hate Elisabeth Röhm’s performance, but her character was absolutely unbearable trying to essentially destroy Joy’s business and dreams while being selfish and greedy. Another element of the film I personally did not care for was the time shift in the plot. To me, it was not a very smooth transition. Multiple times in the movie the plot shifted from the present to the past, and it did not work for me. It took me a second to realize what was happening, then I just kind of accepted it. It never hit me as a something that impressed me. It just happened, and I was along for the ride. Those were really my problems with the movie, and while they didn’t make me dislike the movie, they did take me out of the film slightly.

The cast of Joy around the television

Overall I think Joy is a good movie and definitely a quality film to watch over the Christmas holiday. There are Christmas themed scenes in the movie, so I wish I would have seen it before Christmas, but I didn’t get to. I loved Jennifer Lawrence in this movie and she and her character, Joy, are definitely the driving force of the movie. I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters, and for that reason I wouldn’t say that this is my favorite Jennifer Lawrence movie or my favorite David O. Russell movie, but I had a really good time with Joy. I really liked it, and my family really liked it, so if you get the chance, I would suggest checking it out! It may not win Oscars or even rack up Academy Award nominations like David O. Russell’s movies have been as of late, but I can see Jennifer Lawrence being nominated once again for Best Actress in a Leading Role. I’m going to give Joy a 7.9/10.

Jennifer Lawrence as Joy

So did you get a chance to see Joy this weekend? If you did, what did you think? Also, what is your favorite David O. Russell movie? My favorite is probably The Fighter. I love Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, and with it being the movie in which Christian Bale won his Oscar, I can’t help but like it. I probably won’t be back until maybe January 15th to review the big films that weekend, but I will try to fill the time with reviews from this weekend’s movies as well as my Top 20 Movies of 2015 and my Top 51 Most Anticipated Movies for 2016. As always, thank you! Make sure that you stay tuned for those, as they should be out in this coming week, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

PHOTO: 20th Century Fox

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it’s Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm