- Starring: Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton, Will Smith
- Summary: Chris Gardner (Smith) is a bright and talented, but marginally employed salesman. Struggling to make ends meet, Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of his dream of a better life for the two of them. (Sony)… Expand
- Director: Gabriele Muccino
- Genre(s): Biography, Drama
- More Details and Credits »
100The tough beauty of the picture is that it lets each viewer weigh the costs and benefits to Gardner. It's a genuinely transporting inspirational movie because it's also a cautionary tale. It doesn't downplay the hero's occasional clumsiness or pigheadedness.
80The picture's ending -- which is satisfying, possibly even happy, depending on how you look at it -- is almost inconsequential; it's the texture of everything leading up to it that matters. The Pursuit of Happyness, even within its slickness, gets at intangibles that allegedly grittier movies fail to capture -- like how heavy a wallet can feel when you're down to your last dollar.
75Smith wins our hearts without losing his dignity, as Chris suits up for success by day and fights off despair by night. The role needs gravity, smarts, charm, humor and a soul that's not synthetic. Smith brings it. He's the real deal.
60This is a slick studio production with a huge movie star and top professionals occupying every production role so that the polish of this well-made film makes even homelessness look neat and tidy.
Jondoe10great movie. anyone who disagrees is a blind fool. it shows how real men take care of their kids. also a great movie on learning how to be a father and getting to know your kid. i don't even want to get into the motivational and other aspects of the movie. great acting jobs all around.… Expand
8The film is always in the pursuit of great things, and we are always tasked with feeling depressed or emotional when the story unfolds, and lead character Will Smith and his real life son Jaden give is so many reasons to feel this way after watching The Pursuit of Happyness.
Based on a true story, Smith plays Chris Gardner, a smart and traditional family man, but also a down on his luck individual who is late with his rent, his childcare payments and and must fund these essentials through the sale of bone density scanners, a luxurious spin on X-ray machines, and that exact point is just what makes these things so hard to sell, a pointless luxury.
As Chris is tempted by the perks of being a stockbroker in the 1980s, his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) has had enough of Chris' lack of deliverance on the family front, and decides enough is enough. The punch here, however, is that Chris is desperately trying to provide for his family, he just doesn't know how.
When Chris decides to pursue the stockbroker prospect, he gets accepted onto an unpaid internship lasting six months. As Chris delegates over what his future prospects are, he must think about the present, and of course his son.
Will Smith delivers an awe-inspiring performance as the unlucky man in San Francisco, we see his anger, frustration but love for his son all at play, and he must put up with many people he simply don't understand. Smith's son Jaden also performs brilliantly in his debut performance as Chris' son Christopher, he's just a kid who wants to have a normal life, but also seems to understand what his father is going through, and shows flashes of his dad's intelligence which creates a wonderful father/son dynamic, even when a night spent in a public toilet just for warmth brings them closer than ever.
But what has been sacrificed in an otherwise flawless film is the notion that even if the real story of Chris Gardner isn't familiar to the viewer, there is rarely a downbeat moment where we believe there isn't going to be a happy ending, the constant talk of happiness and how it may be misinterpreted are giveaways throughout the film, leading to a predictable, but still satisfying ending.
A touching and happy story is told, with inspired performances from Will and Jaden Smith that works on the father and son dynamic of being a team and always sticking around for each other.… Expand
MarkB.5Horatio Alger meets The Bicycle Thief. Look, I'm as thrilled as anybody that Chris Gardner, the real-life figure on whom this movie is based, beat insurmountable odds to become a big-time stockbroker, caring for and feeding his little son (and sending him to what is apparently the world's crappiest day care center) while doing it. And I have no problem whatsoever with the critical acclaim and Oscar nomination that Will Smith has received for his heartfelt performance, although I can't help but wonder if Smith would've been as effective in maintaining such convincing screen rapport with child actor Jaden Smith if the latter weren't Will's own offspring. But this movie is so relentless in its apparent aim to make the audience feel as miserable (oh, excuse me, miserYble) as possible most of the way that the childish knock-knock joke that concludes the film, while not being all that funny in and of itself, got as big a reaction from my theater audience as the "bean scene" from Blazing Saddles normally would've...simply because it represents a change of pace, never mind how tiny, from two hours of punishment. I'm often a real sucker for good inspirational movies: I loved Akeelah and the Bee, The World's Fastest Indian, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, Gridiron Gang and the current examples Rocky Balboa and Freedom Writers, but all of those featured abundant moments of humor or joy to counterbalance the required scenes of hard knocks and heartbreak; conversely, I couldn't have wanted to exit The Pursuit of Happyness quicker if the theater had caught on fire! As the old blues song might say, if Gardner as depicted here didn't have bad luck he'd have no luck at all; he can't give away the bulky, outmoded medical devices he starves himself trying to sell to doctors, but that doesn't stop them from being frequently stolen; when given a crucial phone number to call for a job interview, he not only can't find something to write it down with, but people keep shouting other numbers at him while he's desperately trying to commit it to memory! After a while, this accumulation of obstacles reaches such a ridiculous, almost Pythonesque, red alert level that I actually found myself derisively laughing at it; callous as this may seem, my conscience is clear because the filmmakers seem to be fudging several crucial facts in order to artificially intensify the pathos. Apparently the real Gardner's son was an infant (not a preschooler) at the time, and apparently the Dean Witter brokerage firm didn't make Gardner and his 19 competitors do intern work for them for nothing, but paid them a small pittance...so if screenwriter Steve Conrad and director Gabriele Muccino are this willing to play fast and loose with the facts, then why should I automatically buy into their portrayal of Gardner's estranged wife as the biggest harpy on earth? I smell more than a whiff of Cinderella Man's fraudulent portrayal of the infinitely more complex than depicted boxing champ Max Baer as a one-dimensional sadist here; Conrad and Muccino are such enemies of fairmindedness and nuance here that they even make Thandie Newton (a very good actress) LOOK as unattractive as possible, even when she's down to bra and panties! But the worst aspect of The Pursuit of Happyness may well be the aftereffect that occurs down the road, as some of the same American corporations that a few years ago rocketed Spencer Johnson's book Who Moved My Cheese? to Number One on the bestseller lists by buying crates of it in order to convince their employees that being downsized is the best darn thing that could possibly happen to them begin doing the same with this movie on DVD, in essence to tell the rank and file, "Look, so what if the CEO's giving himself another raise and you a pay cut? Be glad we pay you to come to work at all !" If that's indeed what happens (and I don't doubt that it will), then The Pursuit of Happyness will make the long leap from simply being a bad movie to becoming an instrument of evil.… Expand
JohnB.2I thought I was watching "Chariots of Fire" with all the running. This movie reaks of propaganda. Pursuing happyness comes from within, not from getting a job as a stock broker which the movie never touched on. Did anyone notice that the "lower class" kept stealing his machines but the "upper class" corporate world gave him so called, happyness. Talk about boot licking. It was a depressing movie full of subliminal messages of how the corporations give us the happYness we seek. Y is the male cromosome for a male dominated world.… Expand