Joy and ageism

Jennifer Lawrence is taking some undeserved heat for being chosen to play the role of someone at least ten years older than herself in the new moviejoy Joy. Based on the true story of Joy Mangano who invented and marketed the Miracle Mop on QVC, the movie tells the story of a divorced mother of two who manages to plough through the challenges of business sharks and a family dynamic worthy of  its own soap opera to build her brand into a success story. I do agree that the fresh-faced Lawrence does seem a bit young to play the harried real-life woman on whom the story is based, but she does it beautifully. In fact, she reminded me of an early Renee Zellweger before she replaced the original lovely face genetically bequeathed to her by her parents with a Hollywood-ized version that resembles every other starlet who walked out of a plastic surgeon’s office. But that’s another blog story.

I went to see Joy with two girlfriends and although the movie was a bit slow in spots at the beginning, we enjoyed the entire two hours, except for the popcorn being a bit too salty. On the issue of ageism in the movies I must confess I’m guilty of employing a bit of a double standard. I find the continual romantic pairing of older men with women/girls half their age to be annoying and somewhat disgusting. On the other hand, when an older woman is paired with a younger man I want to shout, “You go girl”. I feel justified through a weird sense of payback.

Who can figure out the rationale behind Hollywood casting? Usually younger women win out, sometimes at the expense of the integrity of the movie. What on earth were they thinking when they cast Sally Field as Tom Hanks’ mother with a bad wig in Forrest Gump or Susan Sarandon as Melissa McCarthy’s grandmother in Tammy? But I loved Jennifer Lawrence’s response to the criticism of her casting in Joy? She said that she’s negotiating with David O. Russell to play Robert de Niro’s mother in his next movie.

With a cast that includes Bradley Cooper (those eyes are worth the price of admission alone), Robert de Niro, Isabella Rossellini (who is wearing her age naturally) and Diane Ladd, it’s a lesson in how becoming a commercial success does not happen overnight; it’s not easy; it involves a lot of stress and hard work, and everyone’s family dynamic is complicated. But it has a happy ending. I recommend going to see Joy.

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