2 Stars – Entertaining
Although we take the television shopping networks for granted today, that was not true only three decades ago. Founded in 1986, QVC “Quality, Value, Convenience” was a small cable company in West Chester, Pennsylvania. One of the early stars of this new business model is Joy Mangano. A woman with a creative mind and a degree in business administration, Joy invented a mop into which she invested all of her resources and the gamble paid off. Now a part of the Home Shopping Network, Joy has over one hundred patents including the highest selling product of all time, Huggable Hangers.
But David O. Russell’s film Joy is only inspired by Joy Mangano and creates a comedic fiction that is entertaining but lacking any real depth of tale. Outright creations of fictional characters and making composites of others, the film feels as though we are looking at the caricatures we are in fact viewing.
Russell’s Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) has a universally dysfunctional family with whom she is codependent. Narrated by her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), she is portrayed as providing positive input that gives Joy hope in a world that has stolen her dreams. Her mother Terry (Virginia Madsen) is a recluse who lives through the soap opera characters she watches from her bed, while her father Rudy (Robert De Niro) is an angry man who divorced Terry seventeen years earlier when Joy was a preteen. Joy’s half sister Peggy (Elisabeth Rhöm) is not only jealous but competitive with her. Also a part of the family is Joy’s ex-husband Tony (Édgar Rameriz) whose own creative personality drives him to be a famous singer, and her father’s girlfriend Trudy (Isabella Rossellini) joins the chaos because her deceased husband left her with resources that could help fund Joy’s business plan.
The QVC director is Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) who is taken by Joy’s passion when she comes to market her Miracle Mop at his cable channel. Their relationship is both interesting and productive.
The goal of Russell in both writing the screenplay and directing the film is to present a woman with the ability to fulfill her dreams. Describing Joy as a “non-anxious presence” in her family and business, her grandmother allows us to experience a creative and capable person who sought her dreams and achieved them. Though the comedy and fiction undermines the strength of that message, it is still entertaining cinema.
- When Joy invented the Miracle Mop she was unable to bring it to the public until she was accepted by QVC. Some people believe this kind of telemarketing creates a form of “consumer addiction” in people who then end up buying things they do not need. What do you think, and why do you answer as you do?
- It is difficult to imagine a family this dysfunctional. Did you find that funny or distracting?
- The real Joy Mangano approved the film for its inspiring message. Did you find inspiration from this film, if so what dream are you going to follow?