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Critics give mixed reviews to "Joy"

The reviews are in, and critics aren't exactly jumping for the David O. Russell movie "Joy."

The acclaimed director's film is the third that stars Jennifer Lawrence; he worked with Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle," but if reviews are any indication, the third time is not necessarily a charm. The movie has received a 60 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- a far cry from the 93 percent rating of "American Hustle."

"Joy" follows Lawrence's eponymous heroine, who rises to the top as a mop mogul and leads a powerful family business. Though film writers mostly praised Lawrence's acting in the film, many say the story line just falls too flat for the actress to save.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes, "The 25-year-old supernova again proves she can do anything, moving from comic to tragic without missing a beat. Her job isn't easy."

He continues later and explains, "There's no teeth in Russell's bite this time. His admiration for Joy has blurred his vision. And he lets the climactic scenes of empire building drown the film in a sea of clichés. Sadly, Russell's movie is not a joy forever. Happily, Lawrence is." Travers gave the film two and a half stars.

Dana Stevens of Slate calls the plot convoluted. "Russell's method of barely controlled chaos -- his tendency to keep subplots boiling on multiple burners as he rushes from one seriocomic setup to the next -- doesn't serve the final product well in this case," she says.

She also adds that it's boring to see Lawrence's character deal with the mundanities of running a mop empire: "If, like Russell, you're a big enough J-Law fan to enjoy the spectacle of this smart, charismatic performer doing pretty much anything -- including fixing plumbing,haggling over the pricing of plastic injection molds, or wringing out a grubby pre-Miracle mop with bare, bleeding hands -- 'Joy' may bring you the joy its director seems intent on delivering."

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of the A.V. Club echoes Stevens' point about the mixed-up plot. "Rough even by Russell's standards, this grab bag of dropped plot points, visual metaphors, and theatrical cues looks like the underdrawing of a comic drama, only half covered in bright impasto strokes," he says.

Some critics argued, though, that Lawrence's performance alone made the film worth watching.

Sandy Cohen of the AP says, "Despite the convoluted family dynamics and less-than-successful use of the show-within-a-show trope, Lawrence makes Joy easy to believe and easy to root for, no matter what she's selling."

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times says it's all about Lawrence.

"Lawrence hits all the right notes in a role that calls for her to be a starry-eyed romantic; a cynic who has given up on love; a loving mother; a loyal friend; a daughter who can never please her father and has to care for her mother; and a fiercely determined inventor and wannabe entrepreneur with an almost obsessive drive to succeed," he writes. "It's a wonderfully layered performance that carries the film through its rough spots and sometime dubious detours."

"Joy" opens on Dec. 25.

Tell us: Will you watch "Joy"?

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    Andrea is an entertainment producer at CBSNews.com