The Pursuit of Happyness

| December 16, 2006

Yes, “Happyness” is misspelled, but as is explained several times in The Pursuit of Happyness, the road to achieving that happiness is sometimes filled with bumps and spelling errors (unless you write for Film Monthly).
Will Smith stars as Chris Gardner. He is bright. He is ambitious. He is energetic. He has just made a few bad career choices after leaving the Navy and is struggling mightily to get those two ends to meet in 1981 San Francisco. After being attracted by a Ferrari, he learns that there seems to be money in being a stockbroker, and Dean-Whitter offers a six-month, unpaid internship where one person out of a class of 20 is selected to work for the company. Happyness is the story of his getting into that program (not a spoiler since it is in the trailer) and his subsequent six-month stay in the financial services industry.
Along the way, we witness his deteriorating relationship with his wife Linda (Thandie Newton, who played Terrence Howard’s wife in Crash), and his stronger-than-iron bonding with his five-year-old son Christopher (played by Smith’s real life son, Jaden Smith).
When you watch the lengthy trailer, you might pick up on the idea that this is a great date movie. Snuggle up with the one you love, or just the one you want to continue the evening with, and watch this love story between a father and son unfold. It is not the stuff of Oscars, but it is certainly a very solid and entertaining movie. It might even turn out to be a rental since this is Oscar-contender season at the theaters, and there’s always the possibility Smith will be nomination. At the very least, I found Happyness to be a very solid movie that is very much worth your time.
Smith long ago earned his acting props with performances in Ali, Men in Black, I, Robot and–for me–Hitch (yeah, I loved it). But it is obvious that the acting talent runs strong in this family, with the younger Mr. Smith providing a wonderful turn as the patient, long-suffering son. Although I am sure it didn’t hurt to get the part with his dad in the lead, young Jaden did a great job all on his own. Maybe he won’t have to go through that awkward Fresh Prince of Bel Air (2?) phase that his dad went through on the way to becoming a solid box office draw.
Also earning kudos is Italian director Gabriele Muccino. Still, we could have been given a few scenes with Gardner’s classmates either doing something to sabotage him or being mean to him in some way. However, there are no “heavies” to be found. Instead, they are simply used as props. The drama of Gardner’s life, it turns out, is enough to carry the film.
Otherwise, Muccino’s payoff to the two-hour movie is left in jeopardy enough that we are not quite sure if Gardner does or does not get the job. Sorry, you’ll just have to find out for yourself what bumps in the road Mr. Smith must go through before that “Y” turns into an “I.”

About the Author:

Filed in: Video and DVD

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.