Columbia Pictures | Release Date: December 15, 2006
7.0
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 296 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
213
Mixed:
31
Negative:
52
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5
MarkB.Feb 7, 2007
Horatio 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 Horatio 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
1 of 1 users found this helpful
5
JudyT.Apr 2, 2007
I didn't get it. I couldn't sympathize with a man who would keep his son with him while homeless. It seemed a bit selfish. Also being a slave just to get a job at Dean Witter doesn't say much about Dean Witter or stock brokers I didn't get it. I couldn't sympathize with a man who would keep his son with him while homeless. It seemed a bit selfish. Also being a slave just to get a job at Dean Witter doesn't say much about Dean Witter or stock brokers (high priced salesmen). Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
5
MichaelMJan 1, 2007
Likeable characters and good acting, but would've been more inspirational if Smith had been working toward becoming a teacher, social worker, or other do-gooder. The message seems to be, work hard and you, too, can become rich helping Likeable characters and good acting, but would've been more inspirational if Smith had been working toward becoming a teacher, social worker, or other do-gooder. The message seems to be, work hard and you, too, can become rich helping other rich people avoid paying their taxes. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
5
DonW.Jan 7, 2007
The movie really dragged and we saw nothing that happened after he finally became a stockbroker. I thought the acting was below par also. Drama is not Will Smith's strong suit. Needs action movies.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
4
BillC.Jan 7, 2007
Long and not very engaging, it certainly did not live up to the pre-release hype. I never felt pulled into the story, Will Smith was not nearly as compelling as I had hoped.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
6
JayC.Dec 16, 2006
I love Will Smith's acting and his son is very good, but this movie is just too depressing. It was all about the "pursuit" and almost nothing about the happYness. I agree with most of what was said by the 2 rating reviewer. It seems I love Will Smith's acting and his son is very good, but this movie is just too depressing. It was all about the "pursuit" and almost nothing about the happYness. I agree with most of what was said by the 2 rating reviewer. It seems unbelievable that someone can shoot them shelves in the foot so often. If he was so bright, why couldn't he just get a real job for awhile to keep his wife and family together when it was obvious the machines were poor sellers. It made me think the producers wanted to manipulate viewers into an unreal sympathy for the characters. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
6
RalphA.Dec 31, 2006
Good acting by Will Smith and his son. However, there are two disturbing acts that question whether they should have been portrayed differently. In one scene, Will tells his son to "Shut Up", and in another he viloently shakes his son. Do we Good acting by Will Smith and his son. However, there are two disturbing acts that question whether they should have been portrayed differently. In one scene, Will tells his son to "Shut Up", and in another he viloently shakes his son. Do we really want to see this on film, thus validating this type of behavior? Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
4
MattM.Dec 16, 2006
Will Smith somehow keeps you involved in this propaganda movie. This movie is ridiculous! the whole concept is that money is the only thing that makes you happy. With subliminal images of rich white people always smiling and living the Will Smith somehow keeps you involved in this propaganda movie. This movie is ridiculous! the whole concept is that money is the only thing that makes you happy. With subliminal images of rich white people always smiling and living the perfect lives with golden retrievers in their mercedes. I worked on wall street those people are greedy miserable jerks. for the most part. The idea of the story is great but poorly executed. The filmmaking concept of diminishing returns is very prevalent. You can't show the same thing happening to a character over and over and expect an emotional reaction. The audience gets used to nothing going right for this guy and it has no effect after a while. Will's brilliant acting gets a small amount of emotion at the end, but if the movie would of been about his work situation more and the threat of him not getting the job it would of had a chance to be really good. Overall: boring, good acting, but right wing capitalist propaganda. Collapse
0 of 0 users found this helpful
4
ReidF.Jan 27, 2007
Despite being an interesting story, this is a one-note movie. The director chose to shoot it completely from the lead character's point of view, thereby removing the depth from all of the other characters. Will Smith does a fine job, Despite being an interesting story, this is a one-note movie. The director chose to shoot it completely from the lead character's point of view, thereby removing the depth from all of the other characters. Will Smith does a fine job, but how many times can you watch him run down the street carrying a white box? Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
6
SteveK.Mar 29, 2007
People's complaints about the movie's thorough and complete emphasis on Chris Gardner's struggle without showing the success or happiness, should probably learn to read. This is not meant as an insult, but as an observation. People's complaints about the movie's thorough and complete emphasis on Chris Gardner's struggle without showing the success or happiness, should probably learn to read. This is not meant as an insult, but as an observation. The title of the movie is.... (Wait for it....) "The PURSUIT of Happyness" So what do you think the focus of the movie is going to be? Any guesses? The struggle is painful, but that's what makes it worthwhile when he gets there. Or at least it should. I still would have liked to have seen a little more of the "happiness." Give us a glimpse of what his life looks like now. You don't have to flaunt the bling-bling or show Chris driving expensive cars and in disgustingly extravangant houses, but show us a little of the comfort and peace of mind he worked so hard to get. Lots of pursuit but little happiness. When you work so hard to get the audience some place, there should be a pay-off (in this case: happiness), but when there isn't... or too little of it, the audience feels cheated. The struggle is genuinely heart-wrenching particularly because Will Smith and Jaden Smith are so good, and most people can relate to a guy who pursues a good life for his family and meets hardship along the way. But in the end it's more than a little emotionally manipulative, and the pay-off in the end falls a little short of the goal. Could have been a real inspiring and satisfying tale, but what we get instead is just a nice try. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
6
BrettDec 19, 2006
Predictable, exaggerated, yet still has its touching moments.
0 of 0 users found this helpful