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'Joy' Sinks Into A Morass As Its Protagonist Faces Irritating Obstacles


"Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle." They were the last two films from writer-director David O. Russell. They earned 18 Oscar nominations between them, and they also had something in common, the team of Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. All of this explains why there is so much anticipation for the new film, "Joy." MORNING EDITION and Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: David O. Russell's best films are thrilling high wire acts that run the moment to moment risk of tumbling to the ground. In his latest, "Joy," Russell has more trouble than usual keeping his balance on the wire. "Joy" is based, albeit loosely, on the life of Joy Mangano, an entrepreneur, inventor and QVC shopping network star with the mega-selling Miracle Mop. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as Joy, but the film starts off on the wrong foot with woeful depictions of her background as the only sane person in her dysfunctional family. Then Joy has a eureka moment while - no surprise - cleaning up someone else's mess. She envisions a mop like nothing else on the market. She makes it and tries, unsuccessfully, to sell it at a supermarket parking lot.


JENNIFER LAWRENCE: (As Joy Mangano) Well, it's the only mop you'll ever have to buy.

Hi, would you like to try a new mop? It's self-wringing. You can remove the mop head, throw it in the washing machine - in germs.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) No.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) No.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #3: (As character) No.

LAWRENCE: (As Joy Mangano) You want to just try it? You could just try it. It self-wrings, see? No other mop does this.

TURAN: Things get better when Joy hears about a televised way to sell products and makes a connection with QVC. She convinces an executive there, played by Bradley Cooper, to let her appear as herself.


LAWRENCE: (As Joy Mangano) This is me.

BRADLEY COOPER: (As Neil Walker) This is you? You've got the exact same outfit you had when you came in here.

LAWRENCE: (As Joy Mangano) I wear a blouse and I wear pants. That's who I am. I want to go on as me.

COOPER: (As Neil Walker) Want to go on as you. I hope you make it back.

TURAN: Joy even gets to some spend quality time with Joan Rivers, played by her daughter, Melissa.


COOPER: (As Neil Walker) Joan, Cindy - say good luck to Joy.

MELISSA RIVERS: (As Joan Rivers) Wow. You look great. Good luck today.

LAWRENCE: (As Joy Mangano) Oh, thank you.

DRENA DE NIRO: (As Cindy) Good luck.

RIVERS: (As Joan Rivers) That's her. That's how she is.

TURAN: Sadly, this picture does not go from strength to strength. It sinks into a morass of tedious obstacles to this woman's success. Joy the person may be able to surmount all barriers, but the film with her name on it is not so fortunate.

GREENE: That's Kenneth Turan. He reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and for The Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.

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