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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.95%
Worth A Look35.59%
Average: 22.03%
Pretty Bad: 13.56%
Total Crap: 11.86%

5 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Pursuit of Happyness, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by U.J. Lessing

"Pritty Gud Movee dispite de Baad Speling"
3 stars

An exhausting but satisfying experience, “The Pursuit of Happyness” takes a likeable character and throws Murphy’s Law into his face. We watch this Job-like character lose his safety nets: his wife leaves him, he’s stripped of his possessions, his friends abandon him, and his 5-year-old son and his own determination to make things better become his only companions.

This loose, fictional retelling of the life of Chris Gardner focuses on his destitution in the early eighties. Chris (Will Smith) is a salesman with the insurmountable task of selling an impractical medical machine to doctors. He lives in a small, dilapidated apartment with his wife (Thandie Newton) and son. The taxes and rent are past due.

In an attempt to improve things for his family, Chris applies for an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, but when he’s arrested for unpaid parking tickets his wife, fed up with their constant financial struggles, abandons Chris and their young son (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith achieving every childs’ dream of getting to go to work with their dad).

Chris presses on despite insurmountable obstacles. While it’s never overt, the film presents a thick undercurrent of class-discrimination. Despite’s Chris’s intelligence, resourcefulness, prowess, and magnetism the deck is stacked against his escaping from poverty. Even subtler are the challenges Chris faces as an African-American. He comes from the South, where one can surmise that his intelligence and potential were overlooked. As an intern, he is the only black employee at Dean-Witter, and he is consistently placed in positions of servitude (fetching coffee, moving cars, etc.).

Smith brings a lot of pathos and intelligence to the role of Chris. He takes on this demanding role (he’s in every scene) with astounding depth, and easily conveys the gentleness and fortitude of his character. Smith’s scenes with his son will also ring true to every father watching.

But how important is the film’s message? The film seems to say that working hard is more important than saving your marriage or relying on the people around you for help. That’s a message that would have made Frank Capra cringe. Most of Capra’s populist films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” focused on people achieving satisfying lives by rejecting financial gain and greed and working for the good of their community (which in turn redeems and saves them). In Chris Gardner’s world, there is nobody out there who can help you, and your only responsibility is to earn happiness and money for your family or yourself.

I personally value love and community over relentless drive and dedication, and I believe that extraordinary people tend to emerge into the world because they have extraordinary support structures.

But ideology aside, “The Pursuit of Happyness” works as a film that celebrates people who toil for a better life. Will Smith has had a very successful career, but directors have frequently overlooked his acting skills in favor of emphasizing his image and attitude. Not so in this case. It’s a change that’s long past due.

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originally posted: 01/14/07 10:07:06
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User Comments

5/21/10 fartvenugen trite, cliche and a horrible last 30 minutes. 2 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. will smith's best film & great uplifting story :] 4 stars
7/04/08 Ry Good Move, many should watch and understand you have to work hard to make it.. 4 stars
3/04/08 MP Bartley Wow, he sure did work a lot... 3 stars
2/04/08 Advantus Very touching. Sad and rewarding. 4 stars
12/19/07 Pamela White it shows you can be down but never out if you keep trying 5 stars
9/30/07 Monday Morning Can't anybody edit for time anymore? Good flick but WAY too long! 3 stars
9/27/07 Ashwath Amazin movie and a great performance by Will smith.Totally liked it. 5 stars
6/01/07 ES I wouldn't wish the hell Chris and his son went through on my worst enemy. 4 stars
5/30/07 M It was not about "happyness" it was about money... I cried a few times but overall it stank 3 stars
4/28/07 Dark Enchantress it was ok, the parts that i saw 4 stars
4/12/07 the wizz would've liked to see the good times on screen rather than a couple of paragrahs. 3 stars
4/07/07 Ryan Loved the movie. This reviewer is an idiot though. 5 stars
2/28/07 Beau has the same analytic engaging power of virgin suicides and american beauty! great acting 4 stars
2/25/07 Kevin Arnold Was touching my heart deeply! 5 stars
1/22/07 Tina V I wouldn't even rent this movie! It was way too depressing. 1 stars
1/14/07 Tanya I really enjoyed it Smith is always growing with each film 5 stars
1/12/07 AJ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz did the movie start 5 stars
1/11/07 Keisha Great movie. Inspirational and a good performance by Smith 5 stars
1/07/07 JoAN very emotional, cried through the whole movie, excellent acting and rapport with father and 5 stars
1/03/07 Bert Kaplan disaster after disaster after disaster-no fun to watch 2 stars
12/29/06 Suzz a good film within its genre; fine performances from dad and son 4 stars
12/27/06 Mike Great performances by Smith & son 4 stars
12/27/06 v "HOOK UP WITH A WHITE CHICK?" are you KIIDDING ME? 5 stars
12/21/06 r.s. wow, I'm not really sure what made that reviewer so upset. 3 stars
12/18/06 Rich Smith is great. A sit back and enjoy flick. Don't over analyze and you'll walk away happy. 4 stars
12/17/06 wizardofroz very good acting, very boring, woe is me script. 3 stars
12/17/06 Jamie I loved it. I thought it was going to be stupid but was pleasantly surprised when I saw it. 5 stars
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  15-Dec-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Mar-2007



Directed by
  Gabriele Muccino

Written by
  Steve Conrad

  Will Smith
  Thandie Newton
  Jaden Smith
  Kurt Fuller
  Dan Castellaneta
  James Karen

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