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VINE VOICEon 10 June 2007
I have to admit, I have never been a huge fan of Will Smith, but after seeing a trailer for this film, thought I'd give it a go. I am so glad I did. The beginning of the film says 'inspired by a true story' and since I don't know the real story, I can't say how true to life it is, but it was a real heartwarming tale.

Set in the 1980s, Chris Gardner has a partner (not sure whether she was his wife or girlfriend) and a 5 year old son and life is not going so well. He is stuck trying to sell medical hardware, which he bought into believing it to be a good idea, and is struggling to make any sales at all. His life begins to change when he sees a stock broker arriving for work in a flash car with a huge smile on his face. He applies for an internship in the brokerage firm and happily gets offered 1 of 20 jobs. The problem is, it doesn't carry a salary. Gardner is left trying to complete the internship with the hope of securing the 1 job that comes at the end of it, whilst also providing for his son and struggling for money.

I truly think that this film should have won an Oscar as it certainly sucked me into the story. Even if Will Smith is not one of your favourite actors, you must see this film. His real life son, Jayden, is a great addition to the cast too.
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VINE VOICEon 24 January 2008
This movie is great for affirming the belief that anything is possable if you try hard enough.The casting is magical and if you like Will Smith ( who is great for this part )then wait till you see his hugely talented, even cuter son Jaden.Part of the believabilty and heart of this movie comes from the interaction between the father and son roles- echoing the charachter Chris Garners bond with his son. Garners remarkable story is heartbreaking and gripping but full of hope.
Garner struggles in almost hopeless circumstances- one parent father, uneducated, total poverty and yet still manages to realise his dream- and potential- through a huge leap of faith. At some parts in the film you will be reduced to tears and despair as things go from bed to worse to dire.Gardners seems to be losing his fight to have a better life for his son while reduced to sleeping in toilets and shelters.
This film really shows a mans struggle to better himself in gritty realism and the beautiful bond that exists between father and son .Through the storyline Garners and his son go on a journey but by the beautiful acting the viewer goes thers too. One to definately watch if you want to inspire yourself or remind yourself that the world can be a good place. I hope to see a lot more of Jaden Smith to as he steals every scene.
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on 16 August 2007
Smith is a gifted actor, and this film really showcases his emotional range. His natural rapport with his son is in no way one-sided; Jaden Smith is believable and very charming. Certainly, the audience can feel secure that Chris Gardner, the main character, will succeed in some fashion or else a film would never have been based on his autobiography, but the simple, sentimental score, well-written screenplay, subtle direction and, above all, Will Smith's acting make us strive with Gardner, cry with him, and hurt with him.

Gardner's tale is like "Die Hard" for the masses; he has to endure being arrested, being evicted, fighting for a bed at the homeless shelter, trying to keep appointments and to study while holding down two full-time jobs with no car, sprinting all over San Francisco, attempting to keep himself and his son clean--it just does not stop. Watch Smith's face during the film--he shows us a man who only just manages to fend off despair. He bleeds and weeps because of the injustice in the world, with disappointment at how his potential has been wasted, with the weight of all his past failures, and with worry for his son. But he clings to the path he has chosen in the belief that it will lead him from this torment. One can actually see the dead look in Smith's eyes, the punch-drunk expression of one who is suffering, who is juggling so many burdens that his mind spills over with the effort, for whom a seemingly minor setback is a Big Deal. Smith gets it, and he makes us get it, too.

Incidentally, he could probably have been a stuntman or a professional athlete. He has had running scenes in many of his films to date, and in this movie he looks ready to set a new record for the 400 meters. Smith is a little too fit and energetic for a homeless guy who hardly sleeps and eats in a soup kitchen for much of the movie, but his running and carrying feats illustrate Gardner's bulldog tenacity, and how his own physical power and endurance aided him in achieving his ends. All I have to say is this movie is one of the best this year. I couldn't believe how good Will Smith did in this film. I also couldn't imagine a bone density scanner salesman lived a part of his life this way. Sleeping in a bathroom at a Subway station! On top of toilet paper! It made me feel good that I sleep in a bed at night! I do hope with an inspiring story like this, that he claims any upcoming awards.
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VINE VOICEon 18 February 2008
A lot of Blu Ray disks at the moment mainly concentrate on the film itself, which is nice, but having the extras is a bonus, and this disk doesn't disappoint: all the extras from the original The Pursuit Of Happyness are here, which is great.

The film itself is good, Will Smith carrying Chris Gardner off well, and his son Jaden great. The story can sometimes be a bit unbelievable, but the way it's told really does make it enjoyable. Plenty of funny bits in between the sadness; the chases to get the bone scanner being some of the best action bits.

The Blu-ray transfer is great, 24fps, 1080p AVC, so it's great quality. The sound is also well transferred: 5.1 PCM, which isn't bad, would have liked TruHD, but that's by the by.

All the extras are here, in MPEG2 format, which is just a touch over the DVD quality. The best one being the Rubik's Cube featurette, fascinating.

This is well worth getting on the HD platform, it's clear as a bell and reminds me of when I saw it in cinemas, clear, bright and colourful. You won't find a better transfer, well until HD is superseded, but that's a long way away. If you really like this movie, get it, otherwise might be better getting the DVD.

4/5 for the film, 4/5 for the transfer and 3/5 for the extras.
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on 13 December 2007
Will Smith finally proves that he is capable of carrying a movie with his acting instead of his bravado. While the film itself holds little surprise, Smith is truly a revelation.

This is the kind of movie you usually don't really need to see if you've seen the trailer, as it does exactly what it says on the tin and little else. Smith's character, Chris Gardner, is a destitute man working his ass off trying to get a job as a stock broker by doing an unpaid internship, while trying to look after his five year old son. The story is little more than a rewrite of the same old themes of love, persistence, determination and faith in the American dream (the pursuit of happiness). There are times when the film becomes contrived, as problem after predictable problem is dropped is Gardner's lap.

In spite of these somewhat obvious flaws, the film succeeds due to a consistently engaging and sometimes deeply moving performance from Will Smith, who inhabits his character completely. There are none of the token Willyisms here either, which was a brave move for all concerned, a move that paid off very well. It's nice to see Smith get his second Oscar nomination, as he fully deserves it for lifting this otherwise mediocre weepie to near greatness.
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on 18 July 2007
This really is a beautiful movie based on a true story. Will Smith plays the role in a totally relaxed way, not trying too hard like some of his action roles! but it is his real-life son who steals the move from his dad!
It will make you laugh and make you cry - sometimes at the same time!
It makes you see how easy it is to be down on your luck, and how big the gap is between being homeless and being super-rich, you just need that opening from someone to get on the career ladder to earn some decent money to pay the bills etc etc.
I guarantee by the end of the movie you will cry and be grateful for what you have - brilliant!
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This true story opens in San Francisco in the 1980s, where salesman Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is barely able to make ends meet. His wife (Thandie Newton) gets fed up and leaves, and Chris must juggle a non-paying internship with a brokerage firm with caring for his five-year old son, Christopher (Jaden Smith). With no income, Chris and Christopher go from cheap apartment to cheaper motel and eventually become homeless.

I waited a long time to see this movie because I thought it would be sugary-sweet and corny, but it's not; it's realistic and scary, heartwarming, and inspirational. Smith portrays Chris as an intelligent, hardworking, and extremely likeable man who sees his world crumble around him. He gives a truly memorable performance. His real-life son Jaden is also wonderful as the plucky little boy who rolls with the punches and loves his dad no matter what.

This film about a father's descent into homelessness is full of frustration, tempered with the innocence and resilience of the little son. It's sweet, but not too sweet. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 24 June 2007
I was very unsure about watching this film as it looked to me like sentimental tripe, I didn't like the spelling in the title and I didn't like the fact that Will had roped in his son to play the boy in the film because seemed such a nepotistic move. However, BIG however, this is not sentimental tripe and the casting of Smith Jnr as the Chris Gardner's son was spot on - it makes the whole thing play so much more naturally. It turns out it's all based on a true story which I didn't know and the spelling of 'Happyness' isn't some stupid Hollywood marketting thing - it's part of the story. Duh!

Will Smith has shown he can do the acting 'thang' with his great performance in 'Ali' and this film again proves it - he's not just a brash action / comedy actor - he has a good range and depth to his performance.

If you like stories about 'the American dream' then this is a shining example of the genre done well. My hat goes off to Will Smith.
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This is a great movie by all standards. The title may make the move sound cheesy, but it is not at all cheesy. It is a tale of self belief, courage, hard work, survival and never giving up. That it is inspired by a true life story makes it more remarkable. I am sure we all go through tough times and sometimes we wonder what is the point and whether there will be light at the end of the tunnel? I found this moving inspiring for that reason. This man was jobless, homeless, his wife left him and still he continued to struggle to make the best of things and provide for his young son the best he could, and in the end his hard work came to fruition.
Full marks to Will Smith for a strong and convincing performance in bringing this character to live, and conveying such depths of emotion. This movie is a must see for anyone who likes movies with depth and meaning
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This is a film based on the well-documented true story (and autobiography of the same title) of Chris Gardner, in one sense a rags-to-riches fairy tale but just as importantly a shining example of a father's commitment to caring for his 5-year-old son, something that single male parents are not generally famous for. Set in San Francisco in 1981, the film charts the seemingly relentless tough breaks Gardner has to endure - especially from a financial perspective - but it shows the character of a man absolutely unwilling to fail in his duty as a father despite extraordinary stresses and obstacles. If only all fathers were like this....

I was fortunate enough, I now know in hindsight, to know nothing at all about this film before I watched it - not even the basis on fact. I guessed that Chris Gardner was a real person but I didn't know until I watched the fascinating 'extras' that are part of the DVD, which include an interview with Gardner himself. I am sure this lack of knowledge enhanced my enjoyment of the film, and it was also an advantage not to know that there would be a happy ending; for all I knew, it could have ended in tragedy. A slight distraction for me was the appointment of Will Smith's own son as the lead character's son. He was perfectly suited to the role but it did strike me as something of an indulgence that only an A-list Hollywood celebrity (and joint producer of the film) could pull off. Maybe that's just the cynic in me but even having seen the film I would have preferred a non-relative to have taken the child's part. The finished product personifies the American dream, to which Gardner refers in the narrative when mentioning Jefferson and his pursuit of happiness. If this wasn't a true story then it would come across as very typical Hollywood heartbreak, thankfully this isn't the case and in fairness Will Smith makes a better than decent job in what is a rather different kind of role to those he is more familiar with, and I would venture to suggest that this is probably his best acting performance to date (not that there are many to compare it with!).

With not a single swear-word or any violence at all, this is a film that all the family can watch and enjoy but in truth the themes are of a nature better understood by adults, parents and anyone who knows what it's like to have to struggle from one day to the next just to put food on the table or pay the rent. The overall direction, script, editing and acting make for a tale that could easily have been patronising but at no time could it be accused of being so, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.
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