I guess someone loved Joy from Inside Out so much that they decided to produce her own movie, who knew? I wish that was the case. Instead we got “Overly Dramatic David O. Russell Film Featuring Jennifer Lawrence #3.” Ok, that’s a bit mean, but in all seriousness, I don’t like this film, at all. Let’s go over why.
For one, this movie has no idea how to balance its tone and genres. It’s a drama/comedy, but this movie is so dramatic, it’s depressing! Certain movies that came out this year may have depressed me because of how deplorable they were in quality (i.e. Vacation, Pixels, etc.), but no movie has intentionally been so dark-hearted in its story to the point of bringing my spirits down! The screenplay is “based on a true story” and follows the life of a woman named Joy as she forgoes her own dreams to take care of her (I use this term loosely) “broken” family as she ages. Basically, her life sucks because: she’s divorced with two kids, her mother is divorced and watches soap operas all day, her sister hates her, and many other real-life family issues. I don’t know anything about this person in real life, but I can say with much confidence that this movie is way too heavy with its sad, hard-hitting moments. I never laughed once! This wasn’t just me; everyone in my theatre never laughed (or reacted at all for that matter). The movie just isn’t funny (and the saddening tone doesn’t help), the subject matter doesn’t allow for much comedy, and quite frankly, it just feels uncomfortable to watch. I can’t imagine anyone would like to watch someone else’s scarring and spirit lowering home life/family issues for two straight hours. The actors are decent enough, but not even close to what they can achieve (especially De Niro, Lawrence, and Cooper). O. Russel’s camerawork is still odd (I think he only wants to shoot his films with hand-held cam for some reason). Some of these people (or characters depending on how you view it) are just complete jerks! In fact, the only likeable character in the movie is Joy. Bradley Cooper’s character is fine, but he’s not that interesting and doesn’t show up in the movie until the half way point! Btw, this movie really drags on many times.
Here’s a question I had to ask myself many times: “Is there anything redeeming about this movie at all?” As I said, Joy is an admirable protagonist, and some of the acting is commendable. There are a few instances where the movie talks about the ins and outs of the business/sales industry and whenever those scenes occur, the movie gets much more interesting, and watching Joy finally beating the odds and getting out on top is a great thing to witness.
I get what this movie is trying to do. It wants to teach the lesson that if you never give up, you’ll achieve that goal, chronicle the life of a person who dared to live out her dream, and win David O. Russell an Oscar. Really, this movie feels like Oscar bait if I ever saw it! I’m assuming that the “real life” Joy went through tough and depressing times, but this movie spends so much time focusing on the drama that it becomes a major downer pretty fast. Bottom line, this movie is simply too depressing for too long to be watchable (in addition to not being funny) and it is certainly not a film that should be released around the joyous holiday season. Joy gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a C-. Happy New Year everyone!!!
P.S. The lists I briefly mentioned in my Krampus update will (hopefully) be published before January 15th, but we’ll see what happens.