Joy (J. Lawrence) dreams of being an inventor, but then her life gets sidetracked with a husband (E. Ramirez), two kids, a divorce, a lazy mom (V. Madsen), an erratic dad (De Niro) and a spiteful sister. One day she hits on a new idea for a miracle mop, and sets to producing and marketing it, bringing the whole family along with dad’s rich girlfriend (I. Rossellini) and Joy’s supportive grandma (D. Ladd) and best friend. Then there are pricing and patent disputes. Then after everything has been pretty lousy and hopeless for Joy for an hour and fifty-eight minutes, she wins a major victory against a crooked business partner then becomes wildly successful in postscript.
It feels like Russell builds overcomplicated situations in American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, shoots the scenes with his trusted cast, and figures out how it’ll all work in the editing room, relying on energy and instinct to carry him through – and this time, he didn’t have it. The scenes and sporadic voiceover and transitions and characters often felt half-assed, and if I hadn’t known a distinguished filmmaker was behind the whole thing, I rarely would’ve guessed.
The cast gathers ’round to watch NAILED on cable:
Every character feels like a half-sketched first draft, awaiting development that never comes … The excruciatingly literal dialogue also feels like first draft material. “I feel like I’m in a prison,” Joy sighs about her house. Later, she and her supportive best friend Jackie reminisce about “all the things we used to dream about,” and Jackie introduces a flashback with “Remember the party where it all started?” Exposition inevitably comes either via Mimi’s gushing voiceover, or “As everyone here already knows…” speeches. Joy’s own emotional development consists of a recurring nightmare in which her childhood self scolds her for abandoning her ambitions.
Lawrence is too good of an actress not to be watchable in the part, but she’s totally miscast as a divorced mother of two who’s been repeatedly beaten down by life’s disappointments. This part was meant for the Jennifer Lawrence of 2025, not the one of 2015.