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A great film for the holidays that aces the Bechdel test

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The stars from Silver Linings Playbook are back together in this modern day Cinderella, rags to riches tale. Unlike Cinderella, Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is determined to become successful without the help of a man. An inspirational storyline for anyone growing up in a traditional household where they find themselves continuously being challenged for simply following their dreams. Joy’s father (Robert De Niro) is a hard headed patriarch that proves to be a handful throughout the movie favouring his other daughter more. Joy finds herself putting her dreams on hold to provide a balance within her dysfunctional family. Fortunately, Joy’s grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) gave Joy the courage to become something great.

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Where the movie falls a bit flat is that the storyline almost mirrors Mark Wahlberg’s 2010 knockout hit The Fighter, a biography of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg). The story covers the early years of Micky Ward’s boxing career before he made boxing history. Also growing up in Massachusetts, Micky had to deal with his mother, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo) favouring his step brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), a former boxer that suffered an addiction to crack. Micky’s early boxing career was in jeopardy with Dicky and Alice making poor choices for Micky that only benefitted themselves.

The common denominator in both movies is director David O. Russell. David has a successful career with a handful of box office hits. He apparently has an obsession with casting Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, as they have starred in the last 3 out of 4 movies he has directed (Joy, American Hustle, and Silver Linings Playbook). Perhaps the current ratings for Joy is lower than it should be because the viewers might have seen enough of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence side by side. Jennifer Lawrence delivered a solid performance as a single mother with the world on her shoulders trying to overcome the odds.

Unfortunately, Joy had potential to be much greater. If you are able to ignore David O. Russell’s recent movies, Joy is a great movie for the holiday season that will have you go through a wide range of emotions.

3 out of 5 stars

An extra star for Jennifer Lawrence as Joy (4 out of 5 stars)

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