Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Zero to Hero.
This film was selected from ‘The 250’
Boys and girls, you know I love movies, but there are a few things that often throw me off when it comes to film. A few of them I’ve mentioned before, but I want to specify a couple that are more recent, like when a movie is about Wall Street, or if it’s a true story. Films that are based off of true stories can actually be really good, but also really boring so I’m usually wary of them, but Wall Street films…stock broker garbage – I just usually hate that stuff. Anyways, The Pursuit of Happyness is both a true story and centered on stock broking, but you’ll hardly notice either because the story and the characters alone make it what it is.
So Mr. Will Smith plays Chris Gardner in this biopic where his life basically…sucks to be honest. He’s selling a medical machine called a Bone Density Scanner or something that he is contractually forced to sell. Figures too, because nobody wants it. Anyways, he soon becomes fascinated with the world of stock broking, and decides to try out for it. Problem is, before he can do that, he has to do an unpaid internship program. So here he is, dead broke, can’t sell his machine, while he fights to make it in one of the most competitive programs out there. With no promise of a future in the company he goes all in and risks the security and stability of his life with his son, who may have to experience homelessness before this is all over.
I want to first explain why it is that I’m not always a fan of true story films, beyond the fact that it’s often boring. I like a solid story with a beginning, middle, and an end with a clear pro and antagonist. Not only that, but the most important element I crave is for there to be a goal from the beginning. Saying, okay, this is what I’m going for and this is how I’m going to do it. Normally true stories don’t have that, because for the most part I find they are coming-of-age tales. Look how epic this guy’s life in general was. I don’t care. Movies are different than real life, there has to be a solid reason why we keep watching. The Pursuit of Happyness has that goal, and it also has those protagonists and antagonists – just not in the typical way they are found. The goal is to get out of that mess specifically by making it in stock broking. The antagonist is life while the protagonist (apart from Chris Gardner) is determination. Man vs. Nature.
The world was failing this guy. If the same happened to any of us, we all know that we would end up quitting because that’s just the easier road taken. Settling isn’t preferred, but most of us do it instead of chasing our dreams, so that’s obviously a huge theme for the film. This film is actually riddled with themes left and right. Single parenting, desperation, conviction, marital problems, and yes – “happyness”. These are only a few main themes brought up in the flick. Most people won’t actively think about these themes, but instead, the characters.
The characters and their journey is what ultimately makes this a successful film. Will Smith in all his mustache glory is great as a father, and Jaden actually does a fine job as well. Shocking, right? I was actually watching this thinking – the only thing that separates this movie from After Earth is main characters. People hate that movie with a passion, I’m tellin’ you, but that’s undeserved. It could have been a fantastic movie had Will Smith switched places with Jaden. Because he didn’t, you could tell this wa….sorry got sidetracked with a review with the wrong movie. Anyways, the two of them clearly have great chemistry as a father and son, always have.
The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie you could easily respect. It’s got a bunch of great themes that work together really well. It’s deep and emotional, but it’s also sprinkled with a lot of light humor that evens out the expression of the movie itself and gives you a solid idea of what kind of man Chris Gardner is.
If you’ll notice, I kind of avoided the stock broking portion of the film. I don’t like stock broking stuff in film, never have. That has never appealed to me, nor has ever made any kind of sense. I see myself as a smart guy, but all I see when I see Wall Street is a bunch of rich and powerful tycoons that are in love with the cash in their pockets. I respect this guy for dreaming big and going for what he wants, but I couldn’t have cared less about the stock brokerage.
Christopher Gardner: Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something.