Movie Review: Pursuit of Happyness Being homeless, separated, and forced to raise a five year old isn’t exactly the ideal state for most people, but this is where Chris Gardner (Will Smith) finds himself. The year is 1981, and Chris has completely gambled away all of his money into buying bone marrow scanners to sell. Once his nagging wife Linda (Thandie Newton) leaves Chris and their son Christopher (Jaden Smith, Will’s own son), Chris realizes he has to make a change in their lives.
While doing his mundane task of walking the streets of San Francisco, California to sell his machines, Chris happens upon a very nice sports car. Just as the owner is getting out, Chris jokingly asks him what he does to drive such a nice car. The owner tells Chris that he is a stock broker. Chris has a revelation- he wants to make that type of money. This is where Chris’s journey begins as he competes in an unpaid internship where only one hopeful intern is chosen to become a part of the firm.
He does all of this while trying to keep he and his son from becoming completely impoverished.
Laced with captivating characters, a high level of entertainment, and an overall capability of leaving a permanent effect on the audience, The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) is an amazingly true story of an underdog rising to the top despite his ups and downs to get there. Will Smith fulfills an unprecedented roll of Chris Gardner. Although my opinion might be a bit biased towards him because he is one of my favorite male actors, Will Smith inarguably surpassed my expectation for his character. Smith flawlessly captured the essence of a struggling dad trying to make it into the big leagues.
The small details are what really make the movie realistic; including the low-rent day care that is run by a broken English-speaking Chinese woman who can’t even spell the word happiness right (hence the title of the movie). Will Smith really takes on his roll and makes you believe he is actually going through the experiences of Chris Gardner, and not simply an actor reading his lines. He goes from getting kicked out of his paycheck-to-paycheck apartment to hobnobbing with the wealthy for connections in such a believable and easy manner.
The more dramatic and heart-felt scenes in the movie are carried out impeccably as well. He makes you want him to succeed throughout the entire movie. Although The Pursuit of Happyness does not portray Will Smith as his usual comedic self, it is a truly inspiring, rags-to-riches story. After one finishes watching the movie, they might just want to conquer the world (with a precious five year old in tow)! Some other movies such as Little Miss Sunshine try to make their audience feel a certain way- usually inspired, and I feel that The Pursuit of Happyness does this perfectly.
We follow along with Chris Gardner’s pursuit of trying to beat out the other interns to get the coveted spot of being on the stock broking firm at Dean Witter. He experiences many tragic falls, but nevertheless, he does not let his failures get him down. Gardner does a very admirable job at getting in with all the right people at Dean Witter, to say he is a people person would be a complete understatement. He ultimately wants the best possible life for his son because of his less than perfect childhood.
At one point during the movie, he and his son are even forced to sleep in a grimy subway station bathroom; this was probably Gardner’s lowest point in the film. However, being the optimist that he is, Gardner transforms the bathroom into an imaginary cave where he and his son Christopher are hiding from “scary dinosaurs”. Scenes such as this where Will Smith is emotionally drawing us in are even more believable due to the fact that the actor that plays Christopher is Smith’s son in real life. The Pursuit of Happyness provides a high level of entertainment.
The viewer is carried through the journey from the beginning until the very end. Viewers watch Gardner through every tried and true struggle, really connecting to his character as the unlikely choice. You want to root for him to overcome the series of bad luck that has befallen him. He shows what “unlucky” looks like; however, there are joyful moments along his journey that bring happiness to real people everywhere. The viewer wants the underdog, Gardner, to pull through and succeed. There is never a dull moment in the film because he does not give up on his dream for success.
His optimism is the real inspiration because he is fighting through the negativity he is constantly faced with throughout the movie. It is a terrific, inspirational film that fully succeeds in its category. The Pursuit of Happyness won a Teen Choice Award, MTV Movie Award, and an ASCAP Award, just to name a few. It was also nominated for an Oscar, a BET Award, Critics Choice Award, and a Golden Globe, among many others. If these statistics do not depict what an outstanding movie The Pursuit of Happyness is, then I frankly do not know what will.
The writers did an excellent job of keeping the viewer engaged in the movie throughout its entirety. The way this film is structured is so perfectly designed that the viewer might question if they are watching the real events and not a reenactment. Every piece and detail falls into place back to back, leaving nothing untouched or confusing. As I stated earlier, there is no lull because it goes over every adversity that is placed before Chris Gardner, ranging from when he gets left by his wife, to him stiffing a cab driver out of a few dollars.
Head writer, Steven Conrad, along with director Gabriele Muccino included every minute detail to really keep the viewer intrigued and wanting more. It follows Chris’ day by day life, painting a detailed picture for the viewer to grasp. Will Smith also narrates some points of the story, as Chris Gardner, adding a well-tuned touch to the movie. The film has some surprises in store along the way as well. The Pursuit of Happyness is a fantastic movie overall. It is perfect for most ages being that it is rated PG-13. It is one of those movies where the viewer feels fully satisfied as no stone has been left unturned.
One will get what they came for and then some. If the viewer does not enjoy The Pursuit of Happyness, they might want to strongly reevaluate their own happiness, because something is clearly wrong. Being based on a true story, it really touches on those tender heart strings we often neglect with the “not so well thought out” movies of today. Now one might just enjoy the movie, simple as that, or they might decide to make a change for themselves. Either way, this movie will bring about that insight. It is an exceptional work that I think everyone should place on their list of must see (or see again)!
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