The Pursuit of Happyness Reviews
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is just trying to make money and take care of his family. After investing his entire life savings in a company that goes nowhere, he decides to risk it all and go out for an unpaid internship with a stockbroking company. The message here is extremely powerful, a message he delivers to his son about halfway through the film: If you want something, go get it. And, in the process of getting it, don't let anyone tell you that you can't have it.
The film revolves Gardner's struggle to work for no pay and still manage to take care of his son. You can't help but admire his hustle. Despite numerous shortcomings and failed attempts, he continues to push toward his vision. It's inspiration at its finest. And, just as people warned me, it's also heartbreaking to watch. I mean, the guy can't seem to catch a break. Ever. He takes a step forward then eight back. I appreciated the film being delivered in this fashion because of how real it felt. I never got the sense of sugarcoating. This man was broken, yet he found a way to piece himself back together.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Jaden Smith's performance as Chris jr. He carries the innocence and sadness of a kid that's a victim of a situation he doesn't seem to fully understand. While it's heartbreaking to see them struggle, it's heartwarming to watch them struggle together.
My one complaint would be the movie ending a bit too abruptly for my taste. Other than that, what a great film! I give it a 92.
The Pursuit Of Happyness
Brooding into its tragic situations Will Smith breathes life into the character, whether be it then portraying guilt, suffer or hopelessness; in this light drama The Pursuit Of Hapyness, that questions some basic issues molded with innocence.
Cast: Will Smith, Jayden Smith, Thandie Newton, Brian Howe.
Director: Gabriele Muccino
You better have a box of tissues by your side when watching this movie; it might make you cry like a baby. This film is based on a true story, a father learning to overcome some of the hardest trials in his lifetime. Willing to lose every materialistic thing if he has to as long as he gets to keep his son by his side. Avery meaningful, inspirational, and very well put together film. Will and Jayden Smith give us an outstanding performance leaving us wanting more. In movies, Will usually plays a manly, confident role and always does a very good job doing it. In the pursuit of happyness he is challenged with a different type of role than he usually plays, a very humble, poor, man that is struggling to hold his family together. In my opinion there's no better choice of actor to take on this role, he kills it! Plus, who doesn't like Will Smith?
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) faces crucial poverty and homelessness in the city of San Francisco while trying to support his 4-year-old son all at the same time. He invests most of his life savings on portable bone density scanners that are supposedly more efficient than your average X-rays. He goes around from clinic to clinic trying to figure out a way to sell them, but most of the time has no luck. He accepts an internship at financial institution Dean Witter, to later realize he will not be getting any money from this. He continues to do it because he knows this will give him experience and could help him get a better job in the future. His wife (Thandie Newton) gets frustrated about the lack of money her and Will are bringing home, due to the fact that it's not sufficient to pay the bills. She decides to pack up her stuff and completely abandons them. He has no money to pay rent, gets kicked out of his apartment, leaving him and his son with nowhere to go or sleep.
Will Smiths son (Jaden) has a really interesting role in this movie; he plays a very smart and clever young boy. A very kind, and innocent character, the crowd loves him. He stays loyal to his father and right by his side thru all the hardships. He's a constant reminder to Will that as long as you have your loved ones by your side, you can get thru any trial your facing. He also adds a lot of comedy to this film, his small sarcastic remarks is what the viewers love about him.
There's a crucial scene in the movie where Chris reaches a turning point in his life. He really hits the lowest of the lowest, I'm talking rock bottom. Him and his son have nowhere to go and have no other option but to sleep on the bathroom floor of a train station. In this scene Chris is sitting on the ground clinging on to his son as tight as he can while holding the bathroom door shut with his foot. Every material thing he had got taken from him, but he still has his son by his side, which is what he cares for most. He does what ever he can to keep his him safe, even if it means just holding him tight and being by his side. Chris starts sobbing; he's lost and has no idea if he will make it out of this nightmare we call life or not. He takes a looks at his son and realizes he has no other option but to keep fighting for the sake of him. He gains the strength and right mindset and knows that giving up is not an option.
I won't ruin the ending for you guys, but overall, I loved this movie! The love that Chris Gardner shows for his child is so touching and like no other. Everything he does is for his son, so that he can grow up and have a better future. I highly recommend watching this movie!
The beginning scene opened on Gardner, happily strolling through the hills of San Francisco with a sewing machine under his arm. He had invested all of his savings into the clunky contraptions that could measure bone density; his main job was to haul them around San Francisco and convince physicians that they were worth the money. Over time, he began selling less and less, while his wife began taking more and more shifts at the dry cleaners; yet Gardner had repeatedly reassured his family that they would pull through, and against all odds come out on top. Their rent bills kept being pushed back, until one night, all hell broke loose. His wife abandoned him to get a job back east, his landlord kicked him out of his apartment, and no one needed his machines anymore. Gardner hit rock bottom. It was the tear-invoking moment in the movie, when, Gardner, homeless, jobless, sitting in the subway restroom and clutching his sleeping son, transforms the typical sob story into something more tangible. The genuinely heartbreaking display of emotions by Will Smith in that scene is one of the reasons this movie stands apart from the others. Gardner's only salvation was to set up camp in a homeless shelter, and survive an unpaid brokering internship, something he had been dreaming of doing. To do this, Gardner had to woo the job from Dean Witter, owner of the stock firm. His 5-minute cab-ride interview with Witter's aide revealed his quirky attitude and his unusual skills in mathematics and solving the Rubik's Cube, which charmed both the aide and the movie audience. Gardner got the job, and dutifully trotted off to secure a bed in the homeless shelter for himself and his son. The scenes in the homeless shelter, of Gardner bathing his(Will Smith's actual) son, telling him stories as he fell asleep, and standing proud amongst other broken men as they got their food, spoke to the paternally protective side of the audience. It also spoke of Gardner's unnerving ability to see a future for himself and his son in which they would be happy, and this vision drives him to tackle each challenge as they come along. The lesson Gardner, and ultimately Will Smith, taught to his son, and Muccino taught to the audience, was that despite every possible thing that went wrong in Gardner's life, he would not stop trying for his son's future and "happyness". It was Muccino's and Smith's ode to parents present and past that kept getting up after they were kicked down.
In Gardner's eyes, the Pursuit of Happyness is the pursuit of perseverance in the face of ever-mounting odds. It is the unyielding paternal power that Will Smith masterfully portrays through the midlife crisis of Chris Gardner. The climax of the movie predictably but resoundingly proved this correct, as Witter quietly came up to Gardner on the last day of his internship to announce that he had gotten the job. That is the moment of pure euphoria that the audience had silently awaited and Will Smith portrayed as he clapped his hands and wept silent tears. The anguish that Gardner had gone through are what make this movie genuine and moving, and what separates it from the rest of the cookie cutter American Dream movies. It is the director's and screenwriter's exquisite detail to the sacrifices that Gardner had to make to end up where he was, and their attempt at answering his question. What is the meaning of happiness? Ultimately, I think Gardner answered that. It was that moment of relief, of stability, that Gardner felt as he pulled himself and his family one stable job closer to a happy ending.
The film centers on Will Smith and his real life son Jaden. He's a salesman, and his wife works in some sort of domestic job. They're barely making ends meet, and on top of all that, they have a five year old son. They feel as though the world is against them, but they have no idea how to get out of their slump. They thought they could achieve the American dream by getting rich quick - by selling bone scanners, but in fact, it's not as simple as that. Will and his wife separate, and Will is left alone to take care of his son. So because his first get rich quick scheme didn't work out, he decides to invest in another one. This time, he wants to become a multimillionaire stock broker. He signs up for a 9am-5pm internship that's unpaid for six months, and he has to win the full time position out of 20 other interns. The odds are clearly against him, but he rises to the challenge and gets the internship. Even though it breaks and drives him to the edge, he does whatever it takes to get himself and for his son out of poverty.
It's easy to like this premise. It's clearly about the American dream, which is, if you just try and work hard enough, (even if what you're doing is totally crazy, and irresponsible) things will work out for even the most disadvantaged people. It's important to remember that this is a story coming out from the 1980s, when the gap between the have and the have-nots was widening tremendously. So, for a man to pull this off is nothing short of a miracle. Viewers must also remember that this is a story about one man - one man out of millions of millions of people who want this dream too. But quite unfairly, the movie seems as though this can happen to anyone. That's where it gets problematic. Not everyone can pull themselves out of poverty, and become a multi millionaire. There are thousands of homeless people shown in the movie, but the movie doesn't show sympathy for them, just the main character. The people you are supposed to admire are the rich, white men, who Will so desperately wants to be. But in reality, if those rich people were actually nice, he would feel safe with telling them about his situation. They would be empathetic, rather than write him off. But we never see that. We never see Will explaining his situation, instead we see him trying to cover it up. We see the white wealthy men jerking him around by the neck, asking him to get coffee, spending five dollars he doesn't have, all the while rooting for Will to be one of them, and seeing the white men as the saviors of Will.
One thing I do like about the movie is that it shows how life can just pile up sometimes. My favorite scene in the movie is when Will has to go to the interview for the internship in painting clothes. First, he had to paint the apartment in order to get a longer grace period on his rent, and then the police came to his house because he had to pay parking tickets. When he was at the station, he had to stay overnight in the work clothes, and thus, had to go to the interview looking "unprofessional." This perfectly illustrates how hard Will's life is, and how hard most people's lives are. Sometimes you can't help how hectic things get, and just have to go with the flow as best you can.
I also think the bone density machine is a good symbol, but maybe it's too obvious. His past is literally weighing him down, but it's the only thing that can help in have enough money to survive into the future. When the light bulb is fixed and goes on in the machine during one of Will's most trying times, it's clear that he can let his past go, and move on. I like it, but for me, it's just too obvious, same with the Captain America doll that Jaden loves so much. It's supposed to be ironic, these two poverty stricken men still believe in the "American Dream." But later, when Jaden loses it running for the bus, I guess the director wanted to say that maybe we can't always have hope? It's ambiguous.
But with every good thing in the movie, there's an equally upsetting part. What takes me out of the movie most is the questionable parenting. I understand that it's hard to be a parent in a crucial situation. I've never been in poverty, but I just wonder why Will thinks that when he has almost zero dollars in his bank account, that's the time to risk it all. What does he have to lose? I don't know, maybe his son? I could understand if he was alone, and didn't have to be responsible for anyone but himself, but he also has a child, a growing child who needs attention and proper nutrition, a place to sleep. It's unfair to judge people who have it so hard, but I just find it irresponsible of the movie to show people that this is an "inspiring tale." Put your needs in front of your kids' because it'll all work out in the end. What if he didn't succeed? Then he would just be seen as an asshole for not having a logical back up plan.
I think it's also important to bring up the time period. They don't make many references to the 80s which is actually nice. It doesn't make the 80s feel like one big joke. They also talk about classism. In the 80s there was great prosperity for the wealthy, but the poorer seemed to be getting zilch. This can be seen in a few subtle scenes. One of them is when one of the higher ups at the company Will wants to work for, doesn't realize the importance a five dollar bill can make. For Will that's his and his son's dinner, but for the boss, that's pocket change. They also have another simple scene with wealthy people driving in a Mercedes convertible past the homeless shelter. I really like how they illustrate the class struggle. But rather than show what's keeping the poor people down, they glamorize the wealthy.
To wrap up, I like the movie. Of course it's realistic for that one person, but not realistic for everyone. I also think that Jaden and Will acted very well. No one felt out of place, and the acting was never forced. It was all really natural and believable. Lastly, let's talk about the title, The Pursuit of Happyness. I won't spoil why there's a "y" instead of an "i," but it is obvious that this quote is from Thomas Jefferson from when he was writing the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson plays an important part of the story because Will quotes him so much. They also have close ups of nickels, where you can see Jefferson's profile. I do think it's important that he's in there. Not only because he wrote the title of the movie, but because he was all about individuality - being your own man, and making something for yourself without anyone else's help. It's solely up to the individual to rise up, which is exactly what happens in the film. Whether you agree with that or not, it's important to keep Jefferson in mind while viewing the film. Overall, I give the film an 8/10. It's well meaning, but the messages are manipulative.