Hot Take: The David O. Russell Film-O-Matic (patent pending) mass produced this late season entry. It will please less and irritate more than American Hustle which already pleased less and irritated more than Silver Linings Playbook.
A few years ago, David O. Russell became a household name with the release of Silver Linings Playbook. A year later, many were thrilled by American Hustle but there were signs of laziness and formulaic tendencies in his filmmaking. Now we have Joy which is basically what would happen if you dreamed while simultaneously watching Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle but only if the dream slowly dissolved into a nightmare.
Joy wasn’t all bad but it suffers from being immediately compared to the filmmaker’s previous work and it’s a far inferior effort. Actually, it didn’t feel like much effort at all. It almost felt as if he owed Jennifer Lawrence a favor and this was his repayment. Shockingly, Lawrence is so good, the film reaches mediocrity. Without her, it’s likely Joy would be one of the worst films of the year.
(Disclaimer: This in no way dismisses David O. Russell’s excellent earlier works especially Spanking the Monkey and Three Kings.)
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Jennifer Lawrence
Here’s a test: See Joy. Imagine anyone else other than Jennifer Lawrence as Joy. One of three things will happen: (1) You won’t be able to (2) You will get angry at the thought of how horrendous anyone else would be as Joy or (3) your head will explode. If it weren’t for Lawrence’s performance this film would have been dreadful to watch.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Rest of the Cast
Not sure what happened here but the performances from all others involved were subpar. For Robert Deniro and Bradley Cooper, it felt like maybe they lost a bet and were forced to be in the film against their will.
- David O. Russell, You’re Better Than This!
There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a filmmaker lazily rehash all of his best work into something of a much lesser caliber.