Though Bridesmaids cowriter Annie Mumolo drew from a true story, Joy plays more like Russell's family farce Flirting with Disaster. It's an antic comedy with Jennifer Lawrence as its calm center. She's always watchable, but she's too young for the part of a Long Island single mother who climbs the ladder to success by way of the Miracle Mop, and it prevents her triumph at the end from having the impact that it should. Diane Ladd, who narrates in her honeyed drawl, elevates the scenario as Joy's encouraging grandmother, but as female empowerment pictures go, Joy is a bit of a dud.

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