A heart-warming film that demonstrates how good, hard-working people can become homeless almost overnight, The Pursuit of Happyness is a tour de force showcase for Will Smith, who convincingly portrays a down and out dad trying to better his family's life. Smith, who is usually cast in effortlessly boyish roles (Men in Black, Independence Day), is wonderful in the film--even in the scenes that shamelessly tug at viewers' heart-strings. Based on the true-life story of Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman forced at times to shelter his young son (played by Smith's adorable look-alike offspring Jaden Smith) in a men's room, there is little suspense to the film in terms of Chris's outcome. (His story and eventual success as a prosperous Chicago businessman was well-publicised on the news magazine show 20/20.) And let's face it, Hollywood's not too keen on making feel-good movies with unhappy endings.
The beauty (and suspense, to a certain extent) of The Pursuit of Happyness is in the way the story is told. Though he is constantly rushing around to get to appointments and pick up his child, things do not happen quickly for Chris. When he accepts an internship with a prestigious stock brokerage firm, there's a catch: The position is unpaid, suitable more for trust-fund children than single parents with no other source of income. In many scenes, the viewer panics along with Chris, wondering how he's going to feed his child. While Smith and his son, Jaden, share many tender moments together, Thandie Newton (Crash) has the thankless role of playing Chris' shrill wife, who deserts her family early in the film. It's not a particularly challenging part for the talented actress, and her departure doesn't impact much on the storyline. As for the film's mis-spelled title, it's inspired by a scene early in the film. (Seeing a mural drawn by the children at a daycare center, Chris points out to the proprietor that "happiness" is spelled incorrectly. She notes that it doesn't matter how the word is written--just that the kids have it.) With The Pursuit of Happyness, Smith has come out of his safety zone and, in turn, ends up playing his most heroic role to date. --Jae-Ha Kim
Drama starring Will Smith. Set in early '80s San Francisco, the film charts the hard times and eventual comeback of Chris Gardner (Smith), a suddenly single salesman who has custody of his son, but finds that providing for the two of them is a challenge in the increasingly unstable economic climate. In the face of this difficult life, Chris has the desperate inspiration to try for a stockbroker internship where one in twenty has a chance of a lucrative full time career. Together, father and son struggle through homelessness, jail time, tax seizure and the overall punishing despair in a quest that would make Gardner a respected millionaire.
Will Smith is a father struggling to take care of his young son in this touching tale based on a true story. In San Francisco circa 1981, Chris Gardners (Smith) luck has run out. A bad business investment, a bevy of parking tickets, and back taxes in addition to rent, childcare, and groceries keep him constantly scrambling for cash. Chris thinks his luck is changing when he is accepted into a highly competitive internship program at a brokerage firm. But the internship is unpaid and soon, despite his best efforts, Chris and his five-year old son, Christopher (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith--Will Smiths real life son), find themselves homeless. Chris might spend his days training to invest and make millions, but he and Christopher spend their nights in shelters and public transportation stations. Gardners story is a testament not only to the love between a father and son, but also to the strength of the human spirit. Will Smith turns in a fine, nuanced performance as a man determined to protect his son and make a life for himself and his family. Jaden Smith is an adorable scene-stealer as young Christopher. The real-life father and son pairing translates well onto the big screen; the two have terrific natural chemistry. Their affection for each other is apparent, even as they weather the tough times. This is Italian director Gabriele Muccinos (The Last King, Remember Me My Love) first film in the English language. Thandie Newton also stars as Christophers overworked and defeated mother in this tearjerker which was inspired by a segment on the television news program 20/20.