Oh, David O. Russell. Why? Just.. why? Why did you make this movie? Did you want to have a movie with a feminist message? Did you find the story of a woman making a better mop fascinating? DId you need another vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper? What compelled you? All I know is that you fell flat.
“Joy” is about a woman named, you guessed it, Joy (Jennifer Lawrence), who made a new and better mop, and the challenges she faced in getting said new and better mop out to the public and troubles making the new and better mops. Yeah that's it.
Sounds stupid in my description? That's because it is! Yes, I know, any plot can be done well with the right direction and writing, (See: Lost in Translation) but it's just not done well here. It's very predictable. It's mainly a boring movie, and there's no great performances, either; Jennifer Lawrence is good, Bradley Cooper is alright, Robert De Niro is alright, nobody excels.
This movie is a comedy? Really? People laughed in my theater maybe five times throughout its two hour running time, and I only laughed once, at a line that was supposed to be serious but just sounded like something no one who breathes air would say.
Every character in this movie is one-dimensional. Even Joy never really becomes interesting; she's just a really determined "strong" female character. The most interesting character was Joy's ex-husband, who doesn't do much, but he is her friend and her biggest cheerleader even though they are exes, which goes against what I expect. But when your most interesting character is an ex-husband who doesn't have much to do, you're doing something wrong.
But Joy's biggest crime is just being unsubtle and beating you over the head with its message. One of the first lines in the movie was (paraphrased) "I don't need a prince." I thought to myself, "Oh, boy, I wonder where this is going." This desire for strong female characters that movies so desperately try to claim leads them to beat you over the head with a message of feminism, how women don't need a big, strong man to succeed! They can do it themselves! But instead of letting us watch women succeeding, it tells us that women can succeed. That's an important message to tell, but a movie isn’t a motivational speech; it's a story. Tell a story.
In the end, Joy is a message. It's not entertaining and the only redeeming quality is being alright from a direction and acting standpoint. Don't waste your time with this one.