Finding Joy Wears Quirkiness as a Badge of Honor


Like the kid who discovers Silly Bandz are cool and comes to class wearing a sleeve of them, the creators of Finding Joy seem to have gotten whatever memo is encouraging Zooey Deschanel-style “quirkiness” to be worn as a badge of honor. Carlo De Rosa’s comedy bears some resemblance to Garden State, although it’s a little less depressing and more random in its oddities. Kyle (Josh Cooke), a “boy next door gone wrong” writer, struggling with his second book, comes back home when he can no longer mooch off his friends. That means staying with his “wacked” family, who he hasn’t visited since his mother’s death: his agoraphobic father, dad’s sex-addicted ladylove, a closeted cross-dressing brother, a shrew of a sister-in-law, and, the only sane one, his aspiring novelist niece. Then, there’s his neighbor, Joy (Liane Balaban), who doesn’t believe in the adequacy of the word “nice,” is afraid of clowns, and does “69 knuckles”—involving the rubbing of fists—in lieu of handshakes. Oh, and she is possibly dying because Caesar, a clairvoyant cat, peed on her. With this death sentence, Joy insists on spend her remaining weeks liberated from sentimentality and the rules of convention. To ensure her obituary will not be generic or—God forbid—boring, she sneaks onto a construction site to make a body print in the cement, and teaches the elderly how to use condoms. (We regretfully must inform you that an STD epidemic among baby boomers is a real concern.) Even as she tells Kyle how she inadvertently caused her parents’ death, she chastises him for turning solemn. “It’s fine. And we’re having fun, right?” Anything heartbreaking or somber is touched upon with the barest of brushes or converted into a comic Band-Aid, leaving you stuck on the cusp of the last stage of grief. But Finding Joy does admit that everyone is dying—cat pee or no cat pee—so we better do all we can to give our future obituary writer some good material.