Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Joy Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Inspiring but uneven drama about Miracle Mop inventor.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 124 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 12 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Perseverance is a major theme. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again -- and don't let anyone take away your dreams.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Joy is determined, indefatigable, and caring -- perhaps too caring of others around her, who may not have her best interests in mind.


A woman cuts her hands on broken glass; her palms are shown bloodied. A couple insults each other and argues loudly in front of their grown child and young grandchildren. In a dream sequence, a woman is chloroformed and kidnapped. Joy goes to an outdoor shooting range to release stress; a TV soap opera character also holds a gun.


Some kissing and innuendo. 


Mostly on the milder side ("ass," and such), but there's one use of "f--k." A woman gives someone the finger. 


Joy's own Miracle Mop product is featured prominently (as expected); other brands/labels seen include QVC, HSN, K-Mart, Mercedes Benz, Campbell's soup, Polo by Ralph Lauren, Fox TV, and Embassy Suites.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Joy is a drama based on the real-life Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence), inventor of the Miracle Mop. There are lots of highs and lows in her story -- including a dysfunctional family, financial insecurity, and a deep desire to fulfill dreams deferred -- which makes it a better fit for older viewers. But Joy is an inspiring person, and the content itself isn't too edgy; there's some swearing (mostly on the milder side, but there's one "f--k"), arguing, drinking (usually socially), kissing, and innuendo -- and, of course, a heavy emphasis on the best-selling Miracle Mop product. A dream sequence includes a kidnapping.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjoop January 7, 2016

Watch for Jennifer Lawrence

I have to agree with the others who have noted the unevenness of the script. Whereas the previews kind of set it up to include romance between Lawrence and Coo... Continue reading
Adult Written bythemovieslover May 13, 2018

Joy turns the movie to a quiet and more subtle approach

Joy is a good movie, but can get quite boring while watching the movie, and the movie does turn into a more quiet approach. As many people have noted, the scrip... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byRamy February 9, 2021

Navigating the storm

Inspiring. Promotes perseverence, Hard work and creativity
Teen, 16 years old Written by70sflowers January 22, 2021

What's the story?

JOY Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) has always had an inventive mind. As a child, she built entire worlds and sought to make them real. But as the saying goes, life has a way of making other plans: When Joy's parents divorce, she and her half-sister are torn apart, making tensions between them worse. Though Joy graduated as her class valedictorian and got into college, she never went -- she was too busy taking care of her dysfunctional family. So when she has a eureka moment and comes up with the idea for the Miracle Mop, she's excited and ready to take on the challenge of getting it made and selling it. And quite a challenge it is. 

Is it any good?

Director David O. Russell's signature kinetic charm is at play here, but this movie falls short of greatness. Lawrence delivers a brilliant performance, backed by an unimpeachable cast that includes Robert De Niro as Mangano's father, Isabella Rossellini as his girlfriend, and Bradley Cooper as a QVC genius.

But the meandering, over-long script is all over the place, and Russell's jazzy genius -- which lofted previous films -- feels a bit like a shortcut here. Joy never quite finds its center. Still, Joy's rags-to-riches -- with a load of obstacles in turn -- is inarguably inspiring.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that Joy is a true story. How accurate do you think it is to what actually happened? Why might filmmakers choose to tweak the truth in movies based on real life?

  • How does the movie depict Joy’s journey? What's the takeaway? How does she demonstrate perseverance? Why is this an important character strength?

  • The movie pays a lot of attention to how the Miracle Mop was invented; is this commercialism or not?

  • Why do you think Joy puts up with her difficult family? Is she being a martyr,In or does she simply have a different way of handling her relatives?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true stories

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate