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Film / Joy (2015)

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Joy is a 2015 semi-biographical dramedy film directed by David O. Russell, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop and various other homewares. Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd, and Édgar Ramírez co-star.

Joy Mangano (Lawrence) is a creative—but overworked—divorced mother of two, living with her agoraphobic mother (Madsen), doting grandmother (Ladd), and deadbeat ex-husband (Ramirez) on Long Island, New York. When her father (De Niro) begins dating a widowed entrepreneur (Rossellini), Joy gets the idea to develop a self-wringing mop she dubs the 'Miracle Mop."

With the help of the extended Mangano clan and financing from her father's new flame, Joy's new invention catches the eye of a QVC executive (Cooper), who quickly helps it become one of the hottest new items on the aforementioned home shopping network.

Despite her much-earned success, Joy soon discovers the business world is more cutthroat than she first thought...

Joy is notable for being the third consecutive feature film directed by O'Russell to star both Lawrence and Cooper (the latter albeit in a small supporting role), and second overall to feature De Niro. Lawrence won a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, and was nominated for Best Actress at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Joy provides examples of:

  • The '90s: Presumably when the bulk of this film is set, since the (real) Joy Mangano started appearing on QVC in 1992.
  • Abusive Parents: Joy's mother sits in bed all day and expects her daughter to do everything for her, while her father abruptly stays in her basement and antagonises her ex-husband. Likewise flashbacks reveal that they had no problem fighting in front of the children.
  • The Ace: Joy can do pretty much anything and started inventing multiple things from her early childhood.
  • Amicable Exes: Joy and Tony. It's unclear if they get back together but they remain lifelong friends.
  • Artistic Licence – History:
    • Joy Mangano never had a half-sister called Peggy.
    • Her ex-husband was also a business student, rather than a singer.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The movie has precisely one instance of profanity, an F-bomb dropped by DeNiro near the beginning, that earns the movie its PG-13 rating. Without it, the movie without question would've been rated PG.
  • Bitter Wedding Speech: In a flashback to Joy and Tony's wedding, her father makes a very bitter speech which is a Take That! to his first wife (and Joy's mother), and reduces her to tears.
  • The Cameo: Melissa Rivers plays her late mother Joan at the height of her days at QVC, while superstar soap opera actors Susan Lucci, Laura Wright, Maurice Benard, and Donna Mills play fictional characters on a daytime drama Joy's mother obsessively watches.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Terri watches a fictional Soap Within a Show, where the characters are all played by veteran soap stars - Susan Lucci (All My Children), Maurice Benard, Donna Mills (both General Hospital), Laura Wright (Guiding Light, as well as General Hospital too).
    • Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Rohm had starred together in American Hustle as two characters who hit it off and become friends. Here they play rival sisters. Likewise Jennifer had played the brat in the former, while Elisabeth played the level-headed one. It's the other way around here.
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's mentioned that someone in Hong Kong is making a similar product. Joy discovers that the man in question had no idea that hers had been manufactured, thereby finding evidence of fraud in the paperwork.
  • Child Prodigy: As far as inventions go, Joy was one.
  • Composite Character:
    • While the film started out as a biopic of Joy Mangano, Word of God is that she's a combination of various stories of other women who dared to change their lives drastically. As such Joy's last name is never revealed, and she notably does not come from Mangano's hometown of Smithtown.
    • Joy also had three children. The film shows only two.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Joy decides to make one last stand in Dallas against the company that stole her Miracle Mop patent when she's forced into signing bankruptcy papers.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Joy's mop is finally selling and business is going well. Then Peggy gets her $20,000 in debt, someone steals her designs, she's nearly bankrupted and her beloved grandmother dies without warning.
  • Extreme Doormat: The family literally expects Joy to do everything for them.
  • Friendly Enemy: early on in their dealings with one another, Neil tells Joy they will possibly become adversaries in business, but that they should try to remain friends. In the Flash Forward at the end of the movie, both of these things have come true.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Peggy is an overachiever who frequently rubs it in Joy's face and ends up landing her $20,000 in debt.
    • The mother refuses to get out of bed, spends all day watching soap operas and expects Joy to do everything.
    • The father doesn't really care about Joy, preferring Peggy. He constantly gives bad advice, only cares about his own skin in detriment of his daughter, and constantly antagonizes her ex-husband, despite said ex-husband actually caring about Joy and constantly giving honest and helpful advice.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Joy's half-sister Peggy who manages their father's business, deals with Joy's manufacturer in California, and is very vocal about how she could come up with a project to rival Joy's. It emerges that she's both talentless and clueless, landing Joy seriously in debt by trying to pay off the inflated fees of the manufacturer in California and for all her talk never actually coming up with anything original, instead trying to sue Joy for control of the company. While not directly addressed, her incompetence might be at least partially responsible for Rudy's business problems.
  • Important Haircut: Joy cuts her hair to shoulder length right before succeeding in getting all her money back.
  • Improbable Age: Joy has two kids and has already been married and divorced — which is pushing it when she's played by a twenty-five-year-old actress. But elsewhere it's averted, as many investors are reluctant to trust Joy because she's young and has no business experience. Overlaps with Underage Casting as the real life Joy Marango was almost a decade older than Jennifer Lawrence when she invented the Miracle Mop.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title
  • Mood Whiplash: The movie bounces back and forth between comedy — namely Joy's mother romancing a plumber — and drama.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: MiMi's death motivates Joy to continue succeeding with her entrepreneurial ambitions.
  • Oscar Bait: It's an uplifting biopic directed by David O'Russell, starring two Oscar winners (De Niro and Lawrence) and a handful of past nominees (Cooper, Ladd, Madsen). It also used the strategic December release — that's practically begging for consideration. It didn't take well, as its sole nomination was Best Actress for Lawrence.
  • Parental Favouritism: Joy's father favours Peggy over her.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Joy and Neil Walker, who make an agreement to remain friends even if they end up as business rivals. This agreement holds true by the end.
  • Posthumous Narration: Joy's grandmother narrates the film from beyond the grave.
  • Soap Within a Show: Joy's mother routinely watches one about the exploits of a woman called Dannica, played by real life soap star Susan Lucci.
  • Where da White Women At?: Joy's mother is at first shocked at a black plumber in the house, but she soon begins a romance with him.