I wouldn't call this a complete dud, but it's the least engaging David O. Russell feature I've seen, rehashing the sort of family backbiting he explored more profitably in Silver Linings Playbook (2012), The Fighter (2010), and Flirting With Disaster (1996). Jennifer Lawrence holds the whole thing together with her tough, emotionally direct performance as the title character, a divorced mother who bets everything she's got on a patented new kitchen mop she hopes to sell on the QVC channel. Making her life miserable are her jealous sister (Elisabeth Röhm), their distracted, unaffectionate father (Robert De Niro), and his viperish second wife (Isabella Rossellini), who puts up money for Joy's enterprise but proves anything but generous. A miscast Bradley Cooper struggles through his role as a humorless marketing executive, and the plot turns lumpy as Russell, seeking a big, triumphant climax, throws one business reversal after another at his dogged heroine. With Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, and Edgar Ramirez.
By J.R. Jones