Movie Reviews: The Pursuit of Happyness




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     Columbia Pictures
     A fictionalized account of a struggling single parent determined to build a better life for himself and his child.
     Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Brian Howe, James Karen
Bottom Line:

Samantha Ofole-Prince

Few flicks are notoriously able to tweak our emotional senses, and for all the ‘fantasy’ that comes out of Hollywood it’s certainly refreshing to see something dramatically documented from the real life pages of an inspirational individual.

"The Pursuit of Happyness" (happyness purposely spelt with a ‘Y’) tells a semi-fictionalized story of Chris Gardner (Smith) a self employed door-to-door salesman in San Francisco who has spent his entire life savings on several portable bone density scanners that he’s having difficulty selling. Struggling to make ends meet amidst all odds, his wife Linda (played by Thandie Newton) one day decides she’s had enough and moves to New York to live with her sister, leaving Gardner to fend for their 5-year old son Christopher (played by Smith's real-life son). Evicted from their apartment, Gardner and son are forced to live in a nearby motel as Gardner pursues his dreams of a better life for the two of them. His luck soon changes when he’s accepted as an un-paid intern with a prestigious stock brokerage firm, which could lead to a paid role if selected from 20 other hopefuls in six months, but the lack of income means father and son are soon forced to sleep in shelters and public restrooms whilst fighting one obstacle after another.

Inspired by the true story of Wall Street wizard Chris Gardner, it’s a brilliantly done rags-to-riches tale and the emotional range between real-life father and son is gratifying. The film’s title comes from an incorrectly spelled daycare center sign in Chinatown where Gardner takes his son each day. Virtually all the performances exhibit the same mixture of detailed direction and the story is told elegantly with a real message about values, goals and dreams. Gardner’s character tugs at heartstrings because he is intelligent, persistent, and hardworking and above all is a responsible parent.

An inspirational melodrama dripping with lots of emotion, "Pursuit’s" minor downside is that it’s a tad far fetched at times, and of course, as expected there is the formulaic and rousing ending -- justifiable so. "Pursuit" is a movie that will leave you enlightened and deeper in touch with humanity for it tells a genuinely interesting tale without any contrived plots or gimmicks.



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