PG-13 for brief strong language | In Theaters 12/25 | Ok for Kids 13+ | 20th Century Fox | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Joy

I vaguely remember the story of the "Miracle Mop" back in the 1990s, but had no idea about the woman behind it. I love inspirational stories like this one, especially in the skillful hands of actress Jennifer Lawrence and frequent director-collaborator David O. Russell.

Lawrence plays the real-life Joy Mangano, a woman whose inherent creativity ends up stifled by life's challenges. Though she graduates as her class valedictorian and gets into college, she never goes, instead staying home to take care of her dysfunctional family.

When Joy has a lightbulb moment and comes up with the idea for the Miracle Mop, she's ready to take on the challenge of getting it made and selling it. As we all know, however, the path to success is not straight and narrow.

"Joy" is funny, motivational, emotional and dramatic. It made me want to come home and invent something. And since I'm a self-employed entrepreneur, I guess I do that every day, but it's always inspiring to see it played out at the movies. And who among us doesn't want to lift ourselves out of [insert rut here] and give our kids a better life? I think "Joy" is worth seeing a couple times on the big screen.

Supporting players include Edgar Ramirez as Joy's ex-husband, Virginia Madsen as her mom, Robert De Niro as her dad, Isabella Rossellini as his wealthy girlfriend, Bradley Cooper as a QVC genius, and Diane Ladd as her grandmother.

PARENT INFO: Language includes one "f--k." Also plenty of arguing, family dysfunction, drinking, some kissing and innuendo. A dream sequence includes kidnapping.


One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is the film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Contact her at and check out the shop for fresh editorial content. Images used with permission of the studios and distributors.