Rated PG-13 for some language.
Directed By: Gabriele Muccino
Written By: Steve Conrad
Staring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton, Brian Howe, and James Karen
It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that? -Christopher Garner
A lot of people aren’t going to want to watch this movie because it makes them uncomfortable or sad. I am guilty of this myself. It’s not unusual for a moviegoer to watch the movies to escape reality and that’s ok, but The Pursuit Of Happyness is a movie that shoves reality in your face. This is a nation that is suffering through hard times, but maybe for those of us who have more but feel like we’ve lost a lot, should really see The Pursuit Of Happyness to truly understand what loss, sacrifice, and still never giving up in spite of everything actually means. Most of us are so used to having so much that we don’t really understand what it is to have so little. Be prepared for moments that are going to crush you and moments that are going to make you feel selfish for the things you have or the things you are angry you don’t have. By the end of this movie I hugged and kissed each one of the members of my sleeping family and thanked the universe that we all have each other.
A struggling father made a bad investment that leads to the loss of his wife and home. With a hope and dream of becoming a stock broker, he makes ultimate sacrifices for himself and his son for their future. The road is perilous and it becomes even more daunting as more and more obstacles hinder their livelihood , without even the promise of a job after a long internship. Whether the sacrifices will ultimately benefit Chris Garner and his idealistic son is not certain. The goal is unlikely and their journey seems impossible to survive.
I think it’s fair to say this film wouldn’t have resonated half as powerfully without Will Smith as the lead. Jaden Smith more or less just reacted to him like a son to a father does, but Smith’s performance was engaging, heartfelt, and authentic. I never felt my emotions were being manipulated, because the extent of their situation was pushed past the point most films bother to explore. There was no superficial layering to Happyness, and a lot of that is owed to Will Smith, who can make a good scene great. The simplicity in the storytelling adds to the films tension because there is little to focus on other than what’s happening in the exact moment of the film.
There is no way of getting around the sentimentality of this movie, and why would you want to? People live the lives of the characters in this film, and they have stories to tell too. Just because we are more likely to listen to people falling in love or an exciting action adventure story doesn’t mean we shouldn’t watch movies that actually have something to say. I feel like maybe I’m getting a little preachy in this review and maybe it’s possible I am sitting on a soap box a little bit but I think this movie will inspire that in others as well. Not only does it make you appreciate what you have but it inspires you to want to help those that have less.
The movie was not about the ending, it was about the steps taken, the sacrifices made to get there. I think this film is important in a time where people are struggling in a way that hasn’t been in the public’s face in years. It’s a reminder that this isn’t the first time people have struggled and that maybe not having cable isn’t quite as bad as sleeping in a subway bathroom with your kid. If anything it will put your ideals in perspective. It was heartbreaking to watch, and difficult to endure, but well worth understanding an honest struggle of an honest person. I love a good mindless action movie or some philosophical Sci-Fi drama, but The Pursuit Of Happyness is about real life and I can watch that too.