REVIEW: Movie – The Pursuit of Happyness

happyness.jpgThis is a movie for anyone that has been ‘there’. If you’ve been there you’ll know exactly where I mean. Whether you’ve been to that dark and depressing place at some time of your life because of a lack of money, love, educational standing or career direction, you will appreciate the tale told with this film. Based on a true story, the film is steeped in the reality of ordinary problems which can destroy hope and sometimes tear families apart.

The Pursuit of Happyness is primarily a story of one man’s often courageous and sometimes foolhardy determination to pursue a happy life. The man in question is Chris Gardner (Will Smith), and he is struggling along with his wife Linda (played by an almost unrecognisable Thandie Newton) and their son Christopher (played by Will’s son, Jaden Smith).

We join the Gardner family facing a mounting pile of bills, working too hard for too little, and desperately trying to not lose hope. Financial pressures in particular though can get in the way of the best intentions and the family ties which are already strained threaten to give way completely. Clearly not happy with his place in the world, Gardner decides to take action and pursue a better life for himself and his family. Rather than accept a crummy job with little chance of providing properly for his family’s future, Chris aims for something better; he wants to be a broker.

With an ambitious goal in sight, Chris somehow finds the courage and determination to keep fighting for a better life after numerous setbacks. Picking himself up, dusting himself off and dealing with the battle scars that appear when life keeps throwing obstacles in your way, Chris endures. While money may not necessarily buy you happiness, it does allow people to take care of primary needs like shelter, food and clothing. When these primary needs are not met, humans suffer.

Will Smith brings an underlying strength and unaffected charm to the role of Chris Gardner, with his emotional responses always carefully weighted. This is not to say that he is a saint. Sometimes impatient, sometimes letting the bitterness of his situation flow to his son, and at times wavering on the edge of desperation, Chris is constantly faced with the reality of only having a few dollars to his name. Despite this he is often a calm presence in a world which brings him no end of chaos.

Changes of scene throughout the film very effectively highlight the gross inequities which exist in the world and contrast the widely different experiences of those that have money and those that don’t. It also presses the importance of not judging people from what appearances suggest as we can never really know what is truly going on in their lives.

Travelling along at a pleasant pace, this is a movie that will help you trust in yourself and accept that some dreams really are worth fighting for.


  1. LuckySnap

    Gee Tracy, You really give very in depth reviews. Though I am not fond of Will Smith…and not sure about him in a serious role like this (although he has gotten rave reviews), I am curious to see it. Maybe when it comes out on DVD. But I am still waiting to see Babel! Thansk for the review Tracey –

  2. jan

    I wish more movies would explore “the importance of not judging people from what appearances suggest as we can never really know what is truly going on in their lives.”

    Remembering that Richard Cory from the poem who seemed to have everything a human being could want “went home and put a bullet in his head.”

  3. Navilyn

    Another great review, and another film on my list of, ‘must get for DVD’. Since Chloe came along, I can’t do the, ‘spend the entire Saturday at AMC’!

  4. Tracey

    Hi LuckySnap – Thanks so much. I try to offer as useful a review as I can without giving away too many spoilers…there’s nothing worse than being told all the best bits before you see a movie. Will Smith surprised me with this role, but he really delivers. Definitely not one that you have to see on the big screen so seeing it on DVD sounds like a great idea. I would have to say that I did prefer Babel to The Pursuit of Happyness, but I think they’re both worth the trouble of seeing…Cheers.

    Hi Jan – I agree. People fail to take into account that just because a person looks or acts in a certain way, it doesn’t necessarily reveal all that is actually going on under the surface or in their lives…many people I know only take things at face value…a gross mistake in my book. Thanks for your comments.

    Hi Navilyn – Thanks so much. That’s fair enough, other priorities call and you have no choice but to answer! 8) Movies are always there to catch up on when you have the chance, but ‘life stuff’…that can pass in an instant and never to be repeated…

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