The Joy Luck Club - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Joy Luck Club Reviews

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½ July 27, 2016
I saw this when it first came out, but didn't remember it so it was like seeing it for the first time. The story is interesting and the acting strong, but it's a long films and lags in parts. Still, it's definitely worth watching if you've never seen it.
June 20, 2016
Well-written and thoughtful family piece about culture.
March 6, 2016
This movie should be "Required Viewing". An excellent tale of life in all it's wonderous, terrifying and well-deserved glory!
April 8, 2015
I found this to be a juggled,frantic mess.
November 3, 2014
I am not sure if I love this movie because it the great storytelling or because there is a lack of American Chinese films.
August 30, 2014
One of the best book adaptations I have seen. I felt connected to each of the four stories and I was in tears by the end.
½ July 19, 2014
Good acting and great cast. But the story is totally Asian male bashing. Nothing close to what I've experienced with Asian males.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
June 25, 2014
"The Joy Ruck Crub"! I know you chuckled, you round-eyes, no matter how much you want to appreciate this film for being respectful in its portrayal of Chinese women. I'd be a little more appreciative if the film was a little more respectful in its portrayal of Chinese men, although, in all fairness, any kind of man from Asia can get cartoonishly crazy... particularly those from China. Okay, maybe this film's portrayal of men isn't that thin, at least not as much as my racial profiling, but then again, I'm speaking from today about a film that was released mere months before they launched the Lifetime channel, so, you know, when looking at comparisons, this film's subtlety holds up well. Well, if this film taught me anything, it's that you should keep a firm grip on your past... but still be glad that you moved to American if you're a woman from China. Oh yeah, you better believe that these women are joyous and lucky, because they got some distance from Chinese men, although they couldn't escape taking orders from a British Hong Kong-American director... who I am only addressing because I love that his name is Wayne Wang. Seriously though, if nothing else can be said about this particular Asian man, he sure made this film a good one, through all the shortcomings, that is.

The film has its conventional moment, maybe not to the point of predictability, but decidedly to the point of distinctly betraying a potential for surprising uniqueness, which is peculiar, considering that the film often overexplores its potential. By that, I at least mean that ambition drives dramatic value to the point of melodrama, of which there shouldn't be much in this largely genuine drama, whose histrionic lowlights are a little hard to embrace in comparison to the whole of the drama whose genuineness is still, to one degree or another, watered down by sentimentality. Actually, sentimentality is not the only reflection of subtlety issues, because whether it be through certain heavy-handed conflicts or, of course, through the thin portrayal of the male characters, thematic weight is often thrust against your head, and takes it time to do so. Running but a minutes shy of 140 minutes, the film is simply too long, and I can't help but wonder if that's truly because of excess fat around the edges, or simply because this story is too heavily layered to explore tightly, but either way, the final product is perhaps not very predictability because it's often so aimless. I can say with confidence, however, that the aimlessness thrives on focal inconsistency, rather than pacing inconsistencies, because as an episodic look into the stories of eight - count them, "eight" - woman, the film jars from segment to segment, eventually tot he point of being grossly repetitious, perhaps even - dare I say - monotonous. I found the film to be compelling through and through, thus, my patience was firmly held more often than not, but even the film's grip on its loosened at times, largely because of the questionable structuring, and partly because of the heavy-handedness that reflect an ambition which could have ironically held the final product back as underwhelming. Of course, for those with the patience to take on a film this demanding, expect to be rewarded, as the film is predominantly endearing and tasteful, even in its score.

There is not really too much to say about Rachel Portman's score, which is formulaic, despite a potentially unique fusion of Chinese-themed and western world scoring sensibilities, but still pretty solid, not simply in its individual aesthetic quality, but in its fitting in the context of the film, livening it up, and defining the resonance of its dramatic, if not its melodrama. For this, a degree of credit is due to Wayne Wang's direction, which has its heavy-handed moments, but never allows slow spells to work their way in through all of the dragging, while making tender moments count more often not with solid dramatic thoughtfulness that genuine moves. There is about as much inspiration as there is ambition to Wang's direction, and although this ambition gets the best of genuineness with sentimentality arguably more often than it should, realized inspiration is well worth waiting on. These dramatic highlights are so significant because they're worthy of being applied to a narrative so worthwhile, studying on the various struggles of women in China, and how they affected their new lives and the lives of their children in a new world, and therefore carrying themes regarding culture flaws, parenthood, and the value of womanhood and culture altogether. Amy Tan's and Ronald Bass' script explores these themes rather heavy-handedly in a lot of ways, and ultimately takes its sweet time to unravel an uneven narrative, but in regards to its characterization of the female leads who truly drive the depths of this drama, it really stands out, painting their layers thickly enough for them to serve as thorough vehicles for thematic value, yet humanizing them enough to make them compelling figures by their own right. What truly brings these characters to life is, of course, the performances, which are strong essentially across the board, with every cast member, young and older, delivering on the striking emotions and dynamite chemistry which this powerful ensemble character study would be just about nothing without. Like I said, there's a lot to try your patience, but about as much, if not more to really hold your attention and investment, and reward you for all of your patience as a moving drama.

Overall, the occasional formulaic touch reflects a certain laziness, while histrionic occasions, prominent subtlety issues and a serious narrative bloating which is made all the more glaring by exhaustingly repetitious episodicity to focally uneven plotting reflect a great overambition that tries patience, firmly secured enough by lovely scoring, entertaining and often resonant direction, generally well-characterized scripting, and strong performances across the board to make "The Joy Luck Club" a thought-provoking and moving portrait on the distinctions, consistencies and love between women of struggle, pride and family.

3/5 - Good
May 10, 2014
An all time favorite
April 27, 2014
The Joy Luck Club is earnest and unravels its dark backstory well enough, but there are times when it gets too over-the-top, and some of the child actors could be much better cast.
April 19, 2014
A sprawling saga of four women who fled from war torn China and brought up their daughters in America.

All mothers had their own battle & in many ways it was their daughters who suffered. Filled with some of the greatest Asian/American actresses.

This powerful drama of mothers & daughters & the pressure they put on one another. This is a heavy film but an impacting one.
½ April 18, 2014
The Joy Luck Club is a decent film. It is about the life histories of four Asian women and their daughters who reflect and guide each other. Ming-Na Wen and Lisa Lu give good performances. The screenplay is a little slow in places. Wayne Wang did an alright job directing this movie. I liked this motion picture because of the drama.
March 31, 2014
Box of Kleenex needed
½ February 11, 2014
The Joy Luck Club (1993)

This is a Chinese-American chick flick from Amy Tan's prize-winning novel and stars many familiar Asian-American actors.

It's the story of the guilt, and disappointment of these young Chinese-American daughters, trying, ever-so-hard, to measure up to their mother's expectations. It's also about their mother's, competing with each other, pushing their daughters while also remembering the scraping, suffering, and survival, of their old lives back in the old country.

Despite wanting the best for their daughters, the mothers are sort of stuck in "The Chinese Way" of desiring nothing, to swallow other people's misery, and to eat their own bitterness.

As is expected from a decent chick flick, there's more than enough bad relationships with men, but added to this, is the unknowing caucasian men, who, despite maybe good intentions, just don't understand. It's melodramatic, but it's supposed to be.

Added to that, are insights into the Asian-American experience, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
January 20, 2014
The Joy Luck Club is a brilliant drama about four Chinese mothers and their daughters. What makes this film so immensely enjoyable is how it takes the time to explore its multiple characters and their backgrounds, whether it be the struggles the mothers had while growing up in China, or the struggles of their daughters in America, it was utterly engrossing to follow these women. It's also an interesting piece about the cultural differences between growing up in China versus growing up in America as each of the mothers parents their daughter differently, but they all have their own hopes for their daughters' futures. It's a film about the good times, the bad times, and the tragic parts of life all woven beautifully together in one film. It's a drama with characters that feel real, a and a drama where the dramatic never feels cheesy and stupid (I'm looking at you, Nicholas Sparks films!). It's a wonderful and very under-appreciated drama that seems to have sadly been widely forgotten since its release in 1993. This is one to check out for anyone who loves a good drama.
½ January 17, 2014
beautiful movie, very touching.
July 29, 2013
Excellent story, terrific acting performances
July 25, 2013
1993's Schindler's List Is My Fifth Favorite Film Of All Time.
½ July 23, 2013
3.5: A somewhat epic ensemble picture that really gets at the heart of mother-daughter relationships as well as male-female marriages. More interesting for me than it probably was in the past due to my relationship with a young Asian woman as well. One of those fascinating windows into a somewhat familiar but also somewhat alien immigrant worlds transported right here to the US.
July 11, 2013
excellent film adaptation of the book
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