If I'd paid more attention to the reviews I wouldn't have gone thinking that this was going to be a light-hearted, breezy comedy. I knew it was based on a true story (but how many films are not, these days?) though I was also misled by the film's optimistic title which, in fact, is simply the name of the lead character, Joy Mangano, played by Jennifer Lawrence.
She is the inventor of the 'Miracle Mop', a device which can be rinsed without getting ones hands wet and dirty. The film follows her fight to achieve recognition as well as her due fair payment for the product.
However, the first third or so of the film sets the scene by revealing her domestic situation, living in the same large house as her mother, grandmother and her own infant daughter. Her former husband, divorced from her two years previously, lives in the basement. Then her twice-divorced father, in the form of Robert de Niro, comes round without warning, to move in as well.
There are indeed some laughs in this first section, arising from the abrasive exchanges between the various family members who have uneasy relationships with each other. But then, after an accident involving being cut by small shards of broken glass while cleaning up, Joy invents the mop and tries to find a market for it, meeting on the way, influential industrial big-wig Bradley Cooper who invests faith in her and the product. Before this point has been reached, however, nearly all humour has been vanquished and it becomes very serious, especially when Joy finds that her trust in various people who indicated they could help her, is found to have been misplaced. Indeed, she finds that she has been taken for a ride and income which should have accrued to her has been siphoned off in other directions. She, meanwhile, in order to get her product off the ground, has had to re-mortgage her house and is up to her neck in debt.
I'm not going to blame the film for my own mistaken expectations, but I did find it increasingly heavy-going as it progressed. De Niro himself, well to the fore after his first appearance near the film's start, has less and less to do as the film moves on until he's hardly present at all. Jennifer Lawrence herself is as fine as she usually is, and so is Bradley Cooper, in a rather smaller role than we are used to seeing him in.
David O. Russell is the director and joint writer of this venture, he who also guided Lawrence and Cooper in 'Silver Linings Playbook' as well as both again in 'American Hustle'. I don't think this latest came up to the level of either of those two, but it was still fair enough.
Go if you wish, but if you do I'd advise you to be wiser as to the type of film it is than I was........................6.
1 hour ago