Joy is based on the true story of a divorced Long Island entrepreneur, Joy Mangano (played by Jennifer Lawrence), who invented the Miracle Mop in 1989. In the process she overcomes significant personal and business obstacles. Mangano develops an immensely prosperous business empire, first with QVC and later with the Home Shopping Network (HSN). This is all before retail stores realized their distribution channel was going to be decimated—first by QVC and HSN, and later by Amazon.
This film (written and directed by David O. Russell) reveals a deeply poignant story about a young intelligent woman, from a working class family, who battles a marginally functional mother, divorce, two young kids, a jealous step-sister and corporate risk-aversion. Joy ultimately is a modern fairly tale about believing in yourself and your dreams.
Joy, the inventor, comes up with the idea for the Miracle Mop while mopping her own floors, frustrated that her mop is smelly, couldn’t be washed, and had to be wrung by hand, particularly disgusting after cleaning around the toilet. So Joy improves on the old standby by creating the Miracle Mop, which wrings the water out with grapple handles, not the hands, and is removable for washing. She wants to show other homemakers how this small invention can improve their lives. As a teenager, Joy had previously developed a brightly-colored flea collar for pets but no one was interested. Later, Hartz Mountain releases a similar product and as a result Joy vows to patent her next invention. We see the grandmother (Diane Ladd) encouraging Joy to keep on inventing, after her flea collar invention went nowhere. In addition, we see an investor (Isabella Rossellini) who takes a chance on Joy. Her family also props her up when she most needs validation.
Bradley Cooper, as a QVC executive, delegates the sale and promotion to a feckless executive. Joy goes out to meet the mop sales challenge herself. Bradley Cooper teases the viewer that romance may be in their future.
No one wants to be told that hard work and strong will are almost never enough to succeed in this world, and, as a whole, Joy does just that. That being said, Joy still is inspirational, a joy to behold as well as a force to be reckoned with, interlaced with some fine comedic scenes, particularly those of the soap-opera addled mother (Virginia Madsen) and her ex-husband (Robert DeNiro).
Jennifer Lawrence’s compelling performance—as in almost all of her movies—is noteworthy but, while nominated for an Academy Award, is certainly not her most challenging (which I still believe is “Winter’s Bone”). However, Lawrence takes you on an emotional, heart-aching journey about creating your own opportunities when others stand in your way. Go rent a copy of Joy for a feel-good movie.