Oh, Joy! What can I say? This was just a really misguided effort in so many ways.
To be fair, I personally don’t like director David O. Russell’s style all that much. The constant rambling and talking over each other that he has the actors do — it doesn’t feel authentic to me, just annoying. That said, I did enjoy American Hustle immensely, but I think it may be time for him to re-think his casting choices.
J.Law really gives it a good shot, but she was just terribly mis-cast as a middle-aged working mom. Also: outside of the Hunger Games franchise, is she ever allowed to make a movie without Bradley Cooper? Is that in her contract or something?
Released just in time for Christmas, Joy was obviously meant to lift the American spirit, to make us believe in the American Dream again. That, however, would require some inventiveness, but unlike the movie’s title character, Joy is sorely lacking any ingenuity of its own. Most of the scenes are over the top and on the nose and seem to desperately want to make a point rather than tell a story. In doing so, Joy resorts to tired, old cliches: before J.Law’s character goes full bad-ass, she cuts her hair off (whilst still looking expertly coiffed afterwards) and puts on a leather jacket and sunglasses. Obviously, that’s all it takes to become fully empowered as a woman in a dog eat dog world!
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Joy is about as feminist as a housewife’s recreational Etsy shop and a comedy drama that’s neither funny nor particularly touching.