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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
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?
- In theaters: December 25, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: May 3, 2016
- Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper
- Director: David O. Russell
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: brief strong language
- Awards/Honors: Golden Globe
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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.