The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)


This part of my life… this part right here? This is called “happyness.”

— Chris Gardner

I actively avoided watching The Pursuit of Happyness, because I don’t like those syrupy-knock-you-over-the-head-with-its-message kind of films. Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar for this movie. I can see why, but the overall movie tries at your patience.

It is inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner (Smith), a man struggling to keep his family afloat in San Francisco during the early 80s. When we first meet him, he is a salesman that is selling portable bone density scanners to try to pay for rent.

Chris spent their whole life savings into machines that doctors deemed to be a luxury item. His family is behind in their bills. His distraught wife, Linda (Thandie Newton) is working double shifts to try to keep the family, including helping to send their son, Christopher (Jaden Smith) to daycare in Chinatown.

Chris tries to sell off the last six of the scanners while he tries to better himself by applying for an internship at a brokerage firm, Dean, Witter & Reynolds. He tries to get a way in the broker trainee program by buttering up to one of the executives, Mr. Jay Twistle (Brian Howe).

Chris is very charismatic person. When he sees that Twistle is trying to solve the Rubik cube — which was a hot trend in 1981— Chris impresses Twistle with his math wizardry and solves it. In subsequent meetings with Twistle and Martin Frohm (James Karen), he charms them and become a hard worker on cold calls to potential customers.

Just when his life is looking up, everything else is crumbling down around him. Linda is tired of Chris’ empty promises about leaving the salesman stuff behind and leaves for NYC. She wants to take Christopher with her, but Chris has a rule that child should know his father. He wants Christopher to stay with him.

Being three months behind in rent, the landlord kicks him out on street. With no place to live, Chris looks for different places to live when he is enrolled the six months internship program that could led to a permanent position with the company. Father and son try to stick together through a difficult time in their lives.

Some parts of the movie that bothered me, like the running gag of having Chris chase after people that took his scanners. Be prepared to see a lot of running, voice-overs and references to Thomas Jefferson. This takes place San Francisco; he actually bumps into the hippie or the guy that think the scanner is a time machine that took his scanners. As much as I hated Jayden in The Day the Earth Stood Still, he was equally as annoying here. Asking questions repeatedly got on my last damn nerve. Shut up already!

I supposed that this movie could be cathartic to the people affected by the recession about the past year, but other than that, this is just another saccharine movie that toys with your feelings.

Judgment: Another inspirational movie that doesn’t inspire you. Epic fail!

Rating: **


About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on October 22, 2009, in 2006, Academy Award Nominee, Biopic, Drama, Inspirational and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I went into this with the same apprehension that you did, but I finished feeling completely different. I can’t deny a level of manipulation, but Smith’s performance pretty much compensated for that. He was incredibly genuine, and truly got to me as a parent and a human in general. By the time it was over it actually made have a much greater appreciation for the things that I have instead of the things I don’t. At least it’s manipulative intents served a purpose and really touched emotions instead of some mushy flick that has no substance to it.

    Here’s my review if you’re interested:

    • I understand where you are coming fro, Heather. I am not denying Smith’s performance. It was a solid performance. The movie meandered for my taste.

      I did read your review. I was in almost the same predicament as Gardner. I lost my job, my apartment. I didn’t know where I was going to go. This movie should have enlighted me, but I knew what the ending was. You can’t have a sad ending to the film.

      I remember the news outlets at the time of the film’s release were interviewing Smith and Gardner. I knew that he succeed and became of wealthy stockbroker.

  2. Honestly, I don’t think it would have been half the movie with a different actor in it. It was one of Smith’s best performances, so genuine.

    BTW, I totally agree about Jaden Smith. He wasn’t terrible in this,(though not great either) but The Day The Earth Stood Still? I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a kid to kick the bucket so bad in a movie. HAHAHAHAHA.

    • Smith gave an understated, nuanced performance in this movie. Jaden got on my nerves. This was his first movie. I could let that slide, but TDTESS was AWFUL. I wanted to go into the screen and strangle him.

      Now, he’s ruining another beloved movie, “The Karate Kid.” Now, it’s “The Kung Fu Kid.” Urgh!

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