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24 Dec 2015

The Cast Saves the Day: Despite an Uneven Story, 'Joy' Is Worth Seeing for the Performances

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A scene from Joy. A scene from Joy.

Joy is a goofy and uneven yet entertaining showcase for Jennifer Lawrence, who delivers a fun and strong performance as the title character.

Joy has a tough life, with a mother (Virginia Madsen) addicted to TV, and her divorced husband (Edgar Ramirez) and father (Robert De Niro) sharing her basement. She’s working crap jobs—but an idea for a revolutionary mop gets her onto TV and eventually changes her life.

Director and co-writer David O. Russell reunites with his Silver Linings Playbook star, and the results are a bit strange, to say the least. Lawrence puts the proceedings over the top with the sort of commanding performance that has become routine for her. De Niro has fun in his standard dad role; his roles in David O. Russell films are his best in years.

Isabella Rossellini gets her best role since Blue Velvet as the De Niro character’s rich girlfriend who finds herself bankrolling Joy’s mop scheme. Bradley Cooper barely registers as the TV executive who gives Joy her break, although that has more to do with his lack of screen time rather than the power of his performance.

It’s a good ensemble in service of a movie that is a little beneath them—but it all comes together for something that is worth seeing for the talent involved.

Joy opens Friday, Dec. 25, at theaters across the valley.

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