Joy, as the title suggests, follows the (mildly) true story of Joy (Jennifer Lawrence). She's a divorced mother of two, her ex husband (Édgar Remírez) living in her basement and helping to look after their kids. Sharing her basement is her father, Rudy (Robert DeNiro), who's unsuccessfully running his own business while also trying to fall in love. With the addition of her mother (Virginia Madsen) and grandmother (Diane Ladd), Joy's house is more chaotic than it was when she was a child, and she's just about had enough. She decides to do something to support her family, and so she invents something. She invents a mop, and for the rest of the film we get to follow her as she tries to make a name for herself, selling the mop and getting out of debt.
It wasn't too long before my doubts were proven right as the first hour of this movie is excruciatingly dull. It's weird and chaotic, all these events happening that just aren't that interesting. The film tries to tell us as much of Joy's life as it can, but it's a mess, flashing forwards and backwards without any cohesion and providing a narration that just doesn't work. There's this one scene in particular that's a prolonged montage of Joy's life and it tells us absolutely nothing we didn't already know about her character. We get it. She got married. Her childhood was frustrating. Her dad has issues. This was all told to us in the first ten minutes of the movie. There's no need to flash back in time to see it all unfold.
It's this second half that I could actually bare. More things start to happen, characters aren't forced into the film for the sake of forcing characters into the film and the film actually takes a moment or two to stop frantically shoving information down our throats. It starts to tell a story. Not a very interesting one, but I guess it still counts as a story. It's a story about mops. Joy is a two hour long movie about mops. I honestly couldn't be less interested in it if I tried, although I was trying to do the opposite. I was trying to like it. I couldn't.
As for the rest of the cast, they're hit and miss. Robert DeNiro is amazing, but everyone else falls flat, excluding the previously mentioned Bradley Cooper. Édgar Remírez manages to display two emotions, Virginia Madsen is so fake that she's just unlikeable and Isabella Rossellini.... I don't even know. She's fine, I guess. So is Madsen, technically. Maybe it's their characters that are bringing the film down. Maybe their performances are fine, but it's David O. Russell's disjointed script that's taking away from just how good they are.