When I first heard of this movie, I ignored the fact that “Happyness” which was spelled wrongly was meant to be that way. I searched for this movie with the assumption of the spelling error and made self-correction to it as The Pursuit of Happiness. I was wrong. It is “Happyness”. I gave another thought of the intended spelling was served the purpose of being catchy. Again I was wrong. In the movie, I came to know that Chris Gardner (Will Smith) was trying to correct the owner of the backstreet Chinese daycare centre that was attended by his son. It was one of those murals painted on the wall and that includes the text “Happyness”. Somehow the film title was based on that event, which was the introduction to the movie.
A man with a dream of happiness
The Pursuit of Happyness is all about the life of Chris Gardner, whereby he came to rise as a successful stockbroker and eventually making millions. And it is based on a true story. Nothing makes a moviegoer happier other than having to witness someone else’s feat of achievement in their life. Yay… (in a sarcastic tone). Yes, everyone is curious how millionaires (and billionaires) become as who they are now but that does not make a solid factor to make a good movie out of it. The question is what is so different about this movie? The producers were up to challenge and delivered. This is no epic movie of a rich man’s rags to riches kind of story. They infuse a different flavour to it, something totally different – a father’s love. The American dream of wealth is portrayed as a father and son relationship. Okay now, this movie has a rather odd theme for the given plot but it’s a good one. Otherwise, it won’t be contended in the Oscars.
Fatherly love, both in reel and real life
Chris Gardner is freelance salesman doing direct marketing of (in my opinion) the most useless product you could ever try to sale. How’s Bone Density Scanner sounds like to you? Despite the name, it is just a contraption that works with same principle as the x-ray, just a little brighter and clearer but costs twice more. Lousy attempt in marketing. Amazingly, at the end of the day, Chris managed to sell out all of the units that he had invested. All. A true charismatic natural rookie of marketing. In this film, he has a son, Christopher whose role taken by Thandie Newton Smith who happens to be Will Smith’s real son and a wife, Linda as played by Jaden Smith who coincidently is (you’ve guessed it right) Will Smith’s real wife. Is this a reality show or what? Putting your whole family there as the casts. It can’t be helped I guess. Will Smith is one of the directors and it will make acting looks a lot easier, more convincing, and full of emotion if you actually use your own son in this kind of movie. That makes the process of ‘getting into the character’s shoe’ much convenient without hassle.
Life turned out for the worst as Chris began to face accumulating debts, unpaid taxes, and parking tickets. Worse comes to worst when Linda could not take it any longer and bailed out from him. That makes them two; the father and the son. What is so touching about this movie is how Chris had tried his best to protect his son and hold the family together by keeping a positive outlook in the future, while he attempted luck in the prospect of stock brokerage business. He applied internship at Dean Whitters firm in hopes of becoming a stock broker. He got it but with a catch. There is no salary. Throughout the story, he endures unseen circumstances as he aspire to pursuit a dream of a better life. Talk about pursuit, Chris Gardner had done enough pursuit already. One so many times he was depicted running for various reasons, including retrieving his stolen Bone Density Scanner (dubbed the Time Machine).
The climax was reached when he and the son were kicked out of their rented apartment and rendered homeless. They have stayed inside the toilet, homeless shelter, and even resorting to sleep inside the bus. For the emotional high was at their toilet sleepover. It was so sad and touching but it was not at a point of crying. Instead the feeling of pity overwhelmed me. It was rough, I tell you. However, in spite living in the rot, Chris managed to keep up with his training and even covered up his lesser known pathetic life. Call it a karma but his sufferings and hardship had finally paid off. He was given the job. A fantastic ending to a touching story. In my point of view, however, The Pursuit of Happyness is more to inspiring rather than being so touching. Critics have been saying the beautiful paternal love of a father towards his son is heavily depicted in this film. Some even says it is a story about hardship and the rise from it. But I do agree that this is the most touching, if not beautiful, story ever done by Will Smith. My opinion is that this movie is about an aspiration towards happiness and the inspiration of success later in life. Overall, I advice to not to give a high expectation regardless of the critics and the award nominations. Above mediocre in my judgment but has high value of the motivation aspect to it.
My ratings: 3 out of 5