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Review by Dustin Heller

Joy is the new biographical drama film based on the true life story of Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop.  The film was written and directed by David O. Russell, the auteur behind many great films such as I Heart HuckabeesThe Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle.  With Joy, O. Russell is reunited with his Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.  The rest of the ensemble cast includes Robert De Niro, Édgar Ramírez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, and Isabella Rossellini.  Joy is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and is set to open nationwide on Christmas Day.

Joy Mangano is a divorced mother of three who lives in a house with her mother, grandmother, and ex-husband in the basement.  Joy takes care of and provides for all of them and to make matters worse, her father has just shown up on her doorstep looking for a place to live.  Ever since she was a little girl, Joy has had a very inventive imagination but had always been held back by circumstance.  During a boating trip with her family on her father’s new girlfriend’s boat, an accident happens and red wine gets spilled everywhere.   Upon cleaning it up with a mop and getting glass shards all in her hands, Joy comes up with a the idea that will change her and her family’s life forever.  Even though she has a million dollar idea, there are still many obstacles and doubters she must overcome to finally reach her potential and become the person she was always meant to be.

It seems that something magical happens every time Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell collaborate together.  Throw Bradley Cooper in the mix and you’ve got a pretty great film on your hands.  Joy is an uplifting story about a woman that constantly has to overcome obstacles in her life, but never gives up on her dream.

The film is based on a true story, but there are a few moments where it seemed they took some extra liberties with the story that felt a little far-fetched.  That said, there really isn’t much to complain about.  It is an inspiring story about a strong female character that is shot beautifully with excellent acting from everyone involved.

Lawrence turns in an absolute powerhouse performance as Joy and has a very real shot at her second Oscar win.  Thanks to Lawrence and the entire cast, along with the precise direction of O. Russell, Joy figures to be a major player this awards season.  Joy serves as very good adult counter-programming this holiday season to all of the family films and a certain sci-fi behemoth.

Grade:  B+

Joy opens in theaters on Friday, December 25

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