“Joy” is a true story based on the life of Joy Mangano, but the story is only loosely based on her life and career as an inventor of household products, which all started with the miracle mop.
What is the essence of a great movie? Why do so many movies fail at being great or even good? I go to the movies as often as I do because the 10% payoff of seeing that one great movie is so compelling and unfortunately rare that its worth sitting through the 90% of the average and bad ones. The movie Joy is a great movie because it captured the essence of what lower middle class squalor feels like. What desperation looks like. What a lifetime of never having your fair share and the lifelong injustice of what this represents can mean to an entire family who are just barely scraping by. This movie pulls off the very rare movie experience of providing an escape from the mundane reality of life by visiting the harsh reality of life at the same time. I cannot remember the last time I have ever experienced something like this in any movie.
The movie “Joy” starts with a scene from a very strange and badly acted soap opera where even Susan Lucci makes an appearance. The apparent point of this was to show that life can sometimes be a strange soap opera and this is opening scene is tied to the fact that the main character in this movie, Joy, had a mother that did nothing all day but watch soap opera’s but despite all of this, the opening scene of this movie was completely unexpected and unusual which was just another reason why this movie was so superior and different than anything we have seen before.
Joy is Joy Mangano who is a person that despite her her broken family; her father was married and divorced 3 times, she herself is divorced with 3 kids, managed to somehow break out of a lifetime of misery to invent a miracle mop with after many trials and bad times was a huge success. Joy took incredible financial risks and through the a contact she got through QVC via her x-husband, managed through a series of unlikely events to become a QVC star and the inventor of many new products .
What makes this movie so great is that it does not show any clear or “Hollywood-like” path to miracle success; instead what is shown, are the very harsh realities of what its like to pull off a new business of manufacturing mops in your fathers car repair garage, and the fighting with investors; the main one being her fathers current wealthy girlfriend (played by Isabelle Rosellini ) who he met through a dating service. Joy also had to fight with the criminals who were constantly raising the prices of the plastic parts that were the components of the miracle mop she was trying so desperately to sell for a profit. Just like real life, even when Joy thought that her dreams were realized by a miracle presentation on QVC that started out so badly, the criminals who were trying to ruin her revealed themselves again and then her jealous half-sister made matters worse by getting involved in a business that was not hers and she had no knowledge of. The point of all this is that real life is hard and breaking out of a bad reality is even harder. Very few people are able to create and sell a product that they invented and start their own business, no matter how great the idea. The enormous pitfalls and financial risks are depicted perfectly in this movie and I was so impressed with how well this story was told and the reality of life and business that was always at the forefront of this story. The question was asked to the audience, “could you do this”? Could you take out second mortgage out on your house and risk permanent financial ruin to follow your dream even if it meant putting your entire family in even a worse financial condition? Most people would answer no to this question.
One scene that stands out the most in this movie was a great speech by Joy’s father, played by Robert Deniro . After it appeared that Joy’s business had failed and she would lose everything and have to declare bankruptcy, Joy’s father tells her that it was all his fault. He never should have allowed her to believe that she was anything but average or below average. That she should never aspire to achieve anything great and that essentially she was like everybody else in the family, destined to never achieve anything. This speech represents what is perhaps the biggest and constant obstacle for anyone trying to break out of a bad situation; overcoming the people around you, who want you to fail because if you succeed, they would feel less about themselves.
This movie consists of many of the same actors and director of the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” and receives my highest recommendation. This movie is a must see one of a kind revelation. Jennifer Lawrence has never been better and deserves to win her 3rd Academy Award for best actress and if she does not win its only because she won 2 awards already. The rest of the cast is also outstanding and this movie will be nominated for best picture.
Joy: The Unofficial Biography of Miracle Mop Inventor, Joy Mangano
Joy Magnago is available on Amazon.