Joy Movie Review

“Joy and pain. Like sunshine and rain.” – Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock

David O. Russell’s latest tells a fable grounded in reality of Joy Mangano, who invented a new way to clean floors in the early 90s with the Miracle Mop. It continues his habit during this decade of taking ordinary people and telling their extraordinary situations.

Our title character is portrayed by Russell’s muse Jennifer Lawrence. As a little girl, we see that she loves making inventions with her hands. This leads to the aforementioned mop, though selling it is no easy feat. Her quirky family includes her father Rudy (Robert De Niro, thankfully doing his best work nowadays with this director), who is restless in his love life and in a burgeoning relationship with a wealthy widow (Isabella Rossellini). That widow provides a pipeline to funding the Miracle operation, though not without serious reservations and Joy mortgaging her home twice. Joy’s mother (Virginia Madsen) is essentially an anti-social shut in who exists vicariously through the soap opera characters she watches all day. This allows for some interesting cameos. There’s Joy’s aspiring singer ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez), who still lives with her and serves as a trusted advisor. And Diane Ladd is her constantly supportive grandmother, who narrates these proceedings.

Joy is about the many pains that she must face to convince her family and the consuming public that she’s onto something. The journey eventually leads her to the upstart QVC, headed by a sturdy executive (Bradley Cooper) who conducts the network’s infomercials like an orchestra (her first segment is directed with the energy and enthusiasm we expect from this filmmaker). This allows for the fascinating of seeing Melissa Rivers play her late mother Joan. She soon learns the gloomy side of business, even when success comes. The picture is divided into two halves. The first is mostly about the pain of getting her venture started. The second has more joy and a little more sunshine, but pain is always around the corner. Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock couldn’t have known these lyrics would apply here, but they do.

More than anything, Joy gives Lawrence another platform to shine and she takes advantage. The film never does reach the emotional, comedic, or dramatic heights of previous efforts like The Fighter and, in particular, Silver Linings Playbook. By the movie’s end, we are dealing with a central character who’s gone from sketching her designs in crayon to a multi-million dollar empire. Yet her saga never feels as fraught with nervous excitement as that regional Pennsylvania dance contest in Playbook. Still, Joy’s strange odyssey is one worth taking due to Russell’s exuberance and Lawrence’s talent.

*** (out of four)


My Top 100 Prince Songs of All Time: Nos. 30-21

Today’s installment of my personal Top 100 Prince songs of all time brings us 30-21:

30. “She’s Always in My Hair” – B side (1985)

29. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” from Prince (1979)

28. “Let’s Work” from Controversy (1981)

27. “Girls and Boys” from Parade (1986)

26. “The Question of U” from Graffiti Bridge (1990)

25. “7” from The Symbol Album (1992)

24. “D.M.S.R.” from 1999 (1982)

23. “Cream” from Diamonds and Pearls (1991)

22. “Anotherloverholenyohead” from Parade (1986)

21. “If I Was Your Girlfriend” from Sign O The Times (1987)

We hit the top 20 tomorrow, my friends!

My Top 100 Prince Songs of All Time: Nos. 40-31

The top 40 of my personal Top 100 tracks by the genius Prince is here and we’re at 40-31:

40. “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” – B side (1982)

39. “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” from 1999 (1982)

38. “P. Control” from The Gold Experience (1995)

37. “My Name is Prince” from The Symbol Album (1992)

36. “Joy in Repetition” from Graffiti Bridge (1990)

35. “Do Me, Baby” from Controversy (1981)

34. “I Would Die 4U” from Purple Rain (1984)

33. “Alphabet St.” from Lovesexy (1988)

32. “Head” from Dirty Mind (1980)

31. “Anna Stesia” from Lovesexy (1988)

30-21 tomorrow!

My Top 100 Prince Songs of All Time: Nos. 50-41

Today brings the top 50 of my personal Top 100 Prince Songs of All Time. Here are numbers 50-41:

50. “Uptown” from Dirty Mind (1980)

49. “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” from The Gold Experience (1995)

48. “Sexuality” from Controversy (1981)

47. “Nothing Compares 2U” from Greatest Hits (1993)

46. “Diamonds and Pearls” from Diamonds and Pearls (1991)

45. “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” from Sign O The Times (1987)

44. “Batdance” from Batman (1989)

43. “New Position” from Parade (1986)

42. “Sexy MF” from The Symbol Album (1992)

41. “Lady Cab Driver” from 1999 (1982)

The top 40 arrives 2morrow…

Captain America: Civil War Box Office Prediction

Summer 2016 kicks off in grand Disney/Marvel fashion when Captain America: Civil War debuts next Friday. It is the first weekend of May’s only wide release, as no other studio would dare try counter programming against this surefire juggernaut. This is the third entry in the Captain America franchise, but it is essentially a third Avengers feature as Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Don Cheadle’s War Machine, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, and the debuts of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man all join Chris Evans’ Cap for this extravaganza. Sebastian Shaw, William Hurt, and Daniel Bruhl also appear. Essentially, only Thor and Hulk are missing here.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a multi-billion dollar bonanza for Disney and Marvel Studios. This 13th picture in the MCU has been greeted with terrific buzz and trailers and its critical response stands at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics have gone as far to call it the best MCU movie thus far and this has led to expectations for its opening being understandably sky-high.

How high are we talking? Civil War seems primed to have at least the fifth largest domestic debut of all time. To do so, it would need to top Iron Man 3 and its $174 million opening and $175M seems to be on the lower end of expectations. The current #4 record belongs to summer 2015’s first flick, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which made $191 million. #3 is the original Avengers at $207 million with last summer’s Jurassic World second at $208 million.

The only record I don’t see this competing for is the big daddy – Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which earned $247 million in December. I believe Civil War, with buzz hotter than Ultron, will manage have a larger start and I really wouldn’t be surprised if it does indeed top $200 million. I’m going to peg it at just below what 2012’s Avengers accomplished to make it the second largest MCU debut and fourth highest all-time opening.

Captain America: Civil War opening weekend prediction: $205.6 million


My Top 100 Prince Songs of All Time: Nos. 60-51

Day 5 of my personal Top 100 Prince tracks gets us almost to the halfway mark, covering entries 60-51. They are:

60. “3121” from 3121 (2006)

59. “Strange Relationship” from Sign O The Times (1987)

58. “When You Were Mine” from Dirty Mind (1980)

57. “Soft and Wet” from For You (1978)

56. “Hot Thing” from Sign O The Times (1987)

55. “Take Me With U” from Purple Rain (1984)

54. “Days of Wild” from Crystal Ball (1997)

53. “Mountains” from Parade (1986)

52. “Partyman” from Batman (1989)

51. “Money Don’t Matter 2Nite” from Diamonds and Pearls (1991)

Numbers 50-41 tomorrow…

My Top 100 Prince Songs of All Time: Nos. 70-61

Day 4 brings numbers 70-61 of my personal top 100 tracks from Prince’s storied career:

70. “Endorphinmachine” from The Gold Experience (1995)

69. “Starfish and Coffee” from Sign O The Times (1987)

68. “Billy Jack Bitch” from The Gold Experience (1995)

67. “17 Days” – B side single (1984)

66. “Forever in My Life” from Sign O The Times (1987)

65. “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” from Sign O The Times (1987)

64. “Scandalous” from Batman (1989)

63. “Dirty Mind” from Dirty Mind (1980)

62. “Delirious” from 1999 (1982)

61. “The Max” from The Symbol Album (1992)

Numbers 60-51 out tomorrow!