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The Pursuit of Happyness
Review written on: December 31st, 2006

The Pursuit of Happyness Review

It’s no secret that if you want to make a movie that’ll make money, you need a big star. And these days, there’s no bigger star than Will Smith. His movies always make money, and always draw a crowd. Why? Simple. He’s one of the most talented actors of this generation. People adore him for who he is, how they can relate to him, and how he makes people think.

The Pursuit of Happyness is no different. Based on a true story that makes you feel bad for the character he’s playing, yet pray that in the end, he’ll come out on top. Smith portrays Chris Gardner, a just-about-poor father, who has his wife leave him, because she can’t handle not being financially secure. While Chris is selling medical equiptment to doctors (or lack of selling, rather), she decides that she’d rather move to New York, in hopes of a better life. Chris decides to stick it out, and fight for what he knows he can do, for him, and for his son (played by real life son Jaden).

Chris takes a non-paid internship at Dean Witter, a brokerage firm, who only accepts one broker every six months from a group of 20 interns. The internship has Chris running ragged, staying at various homeless shelters, scrounging for change, and savoring every last dollar he has. That doesn’t affect his attitude, or how he thinks the outcome will happen. He stays positive, and does his best to survive. It’s a true lesson for all of us. I kept thinking to myself “Damn, if this guy got handed any more lemons, his lemonade stand would be huge.”

The old addage of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is definitely the story of Chris Gardner’s life. If this weren’t based on a true story, you’d have to think that the writers of this movie sat and thought about every horrible, bad thing that could happen to one human being, and wrote them all into the script. It’s tough to imagine that anyone could go through all of these horrible things, and still come out with a positive attitude.

Smith (both of them) give stellar performances. While we’ve come to expect this of Will Smith, his son Jaden is so adorable, you just can’t help but love him. Could it have been easier to act, because he was acting opposite his real life father? Maybe. That’s not my call to make. All I can say, is that the kid is damn adorable. Thandie Newton (Crash, ER) does an incredible job of being the bitchy mother in the movie. You seriously want to hate her, and just tell her to shut the hell up. She plays the role brilliantly, and you instantly hate her.

I walk away with this movie, thinking about the most memorable line, which we all have seen in the trailers. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.” He not only taught it to his son, but he taught it to everyone watching the movie, as well.

Though the movie itself felt slow at times, it was still worth seeing, worth experiencing. Will Smith is downright brilliant. Jaden Smith is adorable. The story is moving. The outcome is happy. Am I angry that the title is “The Pursuit of Happyness”? Yes. Do I hate misspelled things? Yes. Is there a reason it’s misspelled? Yes, there is. It makes sense, and is explained early in the movie. So, I hate it less now.

It you like Will Smith’s previous dramatic roles, or enjoy a great true-life story of happiness (not happyness), you’ll absolutely love this movie. It will move you. It may even make you cry. Either way, you’ll leave the theater with a smile on your face, and warmth in your heart.

 

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