Will Smith is heart-breaking to watch in this movie, and I bought into his struggle 100%.
Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton, Brian Howe, Dan Castellaneta
If you ever were feeling down, I wouldn’t recommend a marathon of “Schindler’s List”, “United 93” & “Sophie’s Choice” followed up with a dose of “The Pursuit Of Happyness”. It’s definitely an accurate title, because you watch the film praying for some kind of a happy ending to such a depressing story.
Will Smith stars here as Chris Gardner, who along with his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) & son Christopher (played by Smith’s real life son Jaden) – he’s a genuinely likeable guy, who made the mistake of sinking his life savings into High-Density Bone Scanning machines, which he describes as “a machine that gives a slightly better image than an X-Ray, but costs twice as much” – and his inability to sell the machines brings Linda to the breaking point, and she leaves her family behind for a new life in New York. Facing a difficult future and the threat of eviction, Chris takes on a highly competitive internship at a prestigious Stock broking firm, not realizing that a). It doesn’t pay anything for the full six month traineeship, and, b). Out of the twenty successful applicants, only one of them is likely to be hired for a paying gig. The rest of the movie centers more on Chris’ struggles to provide some sort of normalcy for his son, without having any true means to do so.
“Pursuit”, as most people know, is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, and to see the terrible obstacles that he had to overcome is a great tale of determination – to imagine that in reality, his son was only 18 months old at the time he was forced into the street is just a terrifying thought to me. Some would call it foolhardy to pursue such a massive change of life at such a precarious time, but it is inspiring to watch it all unfold. I’m only just starting to get used to Will Smith as a ‘serious’ actor, I thought he was phenomenal in “Ali”, but I always like the Will that was in “Independence Day” & “Bad Boys” – but hats off to him, he’s already getting a few nominations for his portrayal here, and he deserves every single one of them. I truly believe that I’m getting softer as I get older for these kinds of movies – I know that 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have had a chance in hell of me sitting through something like this, or “The Notebook”, or any kind of “touchy-feely” type flick – but having gone through some of the things in the characters that I see now, I appreciate this type of film on a different level, so with that in mind, Will Smith is heart-breaking to watch in this movie, and I bought into his struggle 100%. In a move that could have gone completely off the rails, Jaden Smith is also fantastic in this – there’s no doubt that the onscreen teaming of family members has worked before in films – but usually with proven actors. Here Jaden is obviously ready to follow in Will’s footsteps, he plays the role with just enough innocence to make the struggles he goes through that touch more unbearable.
Everyone loves an Underdog, so bear that in mind when you put down your cash to watch “The Pursuit Of Happyness” – which really is a terrific film – and try to remember as you watch him beaten down time & again and you believe that it can’t possibly get any worse, there’s always the chance that Chris’ story might have a happy ending – but it would ruin it if I told ya 😉
Reviewer : Adam Weeks