Film Review: The Pursuit of Happyness

Film Review: The Pursuit of Happyness


Director: Gabriele Muccino


Producer: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, James Lassiter and Will Smith


Cast: Will Smith, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Thandie Newton


Rating: 3.5/5


A seemingly long journey filled with hardships, setting sights on your goals and in the end accomplishing them is what lies in the “pursuit of happiness.” The American Dream is yet again visited in the Will Smith starrer The Pursuit of Happyness (the misspelled word is courtesy the way it is written on the wall at the son’s day care center).


In the movie, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a family man struggling to make ends meet in the 1980s. However, despite constant endeavors to keep his family together, his impatient and irritable wife Linda (Thandie Newton) leaves him and their son Christopher (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith) and moves to New York to work as a waitress.


Linda’s action seems rather over the top and financial problems kept aside, one doesn’t really understand why she would leave her son alone with a father who, according to her, is not capable of handling him. Nonetheless, the movie’s about Chris and not Linda. Thandie Newton, as the ever so irritable and screaming wife, is not really missed once she packs her bags and one actually heaves a sigh of relief when she steps out.


A single father now, Chris had invested all his money in expensive medical equipment, which doctors don’t necessarily need. Realizing that it wasn’t going to get him anywhere, Chris decides to try his hand in the stock market as a broker. The reason: everyone who came out of the building was always happy and smiling!


He lands himself an internship at the firm by solving a Rubik’s cube puzzle and impressing the right man! However, there’s no salary involved but he accepts the offer hopeful that he will end the program with a job and a promising future. In the meanwhile, he’s also running around town with his son in tow to sell the remaining medical boxes. Bad turns to worse when unable to pay his rent, he is thrown out of his home.


Chris and his son are forced to sleep in shelters, bus stations, bathrooms or wherever they can find refuge for the night. Especially touching and riveting is the scene in the metro station when the father – son duo have no roof on their heads. Chris tries to take his son into a fantasy land and Christopher plays along believing they have been transformed into another land via the time machine (Chris’ medical box).


Based on a true life story, the movie portrays hope in the eyes of the son (Christopher) and dreams in the eyes of the father (Chris). An emotive Will Smith and his twinkle-eyed son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith are a pleasure to watch. Will Smith gives a memorable performance as a never-tiring man, who is determined to make it in life. The last scene, when he actually succeeds in his pursuit, is by far the best scene in the movie. Sans any dialogue, the scene is by far an impressive one and makes you grin from ear to ear (just like all those who walk out of the Wall Street building).


The cliché ‘Like Father Like Son’ seems to be apt for Jaden Christopher Syre Smith. He looks most comfortable being with his real-life dad in reel-life and is a natural.


One tends to empathize and cry along with Chris thanks to Smith’s natural performance as he struggles to overcome the obstacles in his path, never once giving up.


Director Gabriele Muccino has done a commendable job. The only hitch is that towards the latter half of the movie, one tends to get restless as the ‘pursuit’ seems never ending. Nevertheless, Smith senior and junior’s performance cloud the minor hitch and keeps you glued to the plot.

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