David O. Russell's 8th Movie: JOY

Saturday, January 2, 2016


  Red Wine on Teak Floors = "Joy"  

By Le Anne Lindsay, Tinsel & Tine Editor

The first thing I liked about JOY, David O. Russell's latest vehicle starring Jennifer Lawrence, was the trailer. It gave very little away, you knew the protagonist lived with her entire family, including an ex-husband and that she wants them to get behind her on an idea to hopefully get them out of low economic circumstances, but that's it. The rest of the images could take the story in many different directions, so you walk into the movie, open for anything.

I've read some of the criticism of  "Joy", most critics feel it's messy, unfocused and falls way short of Russell's The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle (click for T&T posts, not sure why I never wrote one for The Fighter) and I can't argue these points entirely.  The Fighter brought great drama with equal humor. Silver Linings Playbook (set in Philly) had such unexpected charm and romance.  American Hustle created a definitive look and feel with wonderfully off kilter pacing and humor. But I most identify with Joy.

T&T Synopsis: We meet Joy as a child of about 10 or 11 through her grandmother's (Diane Ladd) voice-over as she explains just how special and creative her granddaughter is, that she knows Joy is destined for great things and constantly reminds her of this fact.  But then life happens. Joy meets a Latin musician (Edgar Ramirez) at her friend's party and falls for him on the spot. They marry and immediately start a family. As is too often the case, when responsibility comes quickly, the woman steps up, maternal instincts and survival techniques kick in; where the man can't get it together to provide for a family and pull his weight, particularly when they are the "my music career's gonna take-off soon" type.  On top of working at a ticket counter for an airline, Joy does the books for her father's (Robert De Niro) auto body shop. He's admits to being a man that can't live without a love interest, so when his current girlfriend dumps him on Joy's doorstep, he immediately goes online and meets a rich widow (Isabella Rossellini). Joy also cares for her mother (Virginia Madsen) who has retreated from the real world preferring that of the Soaps. These "stories" (as my friends of a darker hue used to call them) are cut to often in the movie, and feature Susan Lucci and my old fav Cassie from Guiding Light, Laura Wright.   Joy is a natural caretaker with a strong sense of obligation, it's this trait and her bloody hands from cleaning up broken glass, which takes her down the road of becoming an inventor, and all the trials and tribulations having a good idea brings.

NYC Premiere of "Joy" Credit: Rex/Startraks Photo
Joy is loosely based on the life of  QVC darling and household product inventor Joy Mangano, who is a producer on the movie. It's a rags to riches story we can all relate to, as most people at some point, come up with a good idea that you wish you knew how to manufacture, produce, market and see it become a money maker.  And even if it didn't succeed the way you hoped, the fact that you went for it, pursued it every way you knew how, would at least bring you some sense of satisfaction.  I feel that way about Tinsel & Tine, try as I might, I don't think I'll ever figure out a way to make it a business. But it's the only thing I've ever done this long, (started in 2009) given myself over to and take pride in doing.  And like Joy, I'm sure if I ever do meet someone who can help me take the food and film brand to another level, I'd find out the journey is full of bumps and bruises and major business lessons which may leave me wiser, if not richer.

What makes Mangano such a unique subject for a biopic is that she doesn’t fit any of the established heroine roles. The lone woman fighting against the odds has been done in films such as Erin Brockovich or The Good Lie. But these are inherently romantic tales about campaigns for justice that tap neatly into the stereotype of misty eyed female compassion. Meanwhile, women who succeed in business are rarely the protagonists in Hollywood movies; all too often they are the hard nosed boss or callous bitch (The Devil Wears Prada, Working Girl).- Sam Delaney The Telegraph

Bottom line:  As always, Jennifer Lawrence is a win. JLaw has the ability to make you truly care about what she cares about, no matter what else is working or not working in a movie. I certainly understand why David O. Russel has cast her in 3 of his 8 movies (side note: The Hateful Eight (click for Revlock Review) is Quentin Tarantino's 8th too). Personally, I liked getting to know the quirks and dysfunction of Joy's home life, which also includes a terribly resentful step sister (Elisabeth Rohm). And as someone who spent all of my formative years lost in the make believe worlds of Springfield, Oakdale and Genoa City, I can certainly relate to the mother's obsession - her TV is piled high with VHS tapes, as mine always was throughout the 80's and 90's, but that's because I was forced to leave the house for school and/or work, only to rushed back to play the tapes, but Joy's mother is home all day to watch them so... At any rate, yes Joy does meander around for quite sometime before becoming a story about what it takes to become a mogul, but it's a mess that gave me comfort and joy.

T &T's LAMB Score: 4 outta 5

Post Update 1/3/16 9:30pm - I was just channel surfing and happened to catch Joy Mangano on HSN hawking the new improved Miracle Mop for the same $19.95 price of 25 years ago.  David O. Russell even called in and said he wanted 13 mops.  After watching for a bit, I realized, I need a Miracle Mop and made my first ever TV shopping purchase!  Can't wait till it arrives!

Post Update 1/25/16 1:07pm - My Joy Mangano Miracle Mop Arrived and I'm not that pleased with it. The microfibers are not absorbent enough to quickly sop up the puddles of water you get on the bathroom floor after exiting the shower. And I feel like the guy in the movie who couldn't get the hang of the wringing action, pushing doesn't seem to work that well, you need to use a wringing motion, but then the mop gets a bald spot and it's hard to get it back to the mop shape. I haven't tried to wash the mop head yet, hope it comes off and goes back on as easily as Joy promised. Oh well, as a first time buyer on HSN network, I got the mop half priced, so guess, it's OK for 10 bucks!

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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