50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will Smith's Strong, Urgent Performance Elevates this Reality-Based Tearjerker.
"The Pursuit of Happyness" is an unabashed tearjerker about the American Dream and commitment to family in the face of great odds. It was inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, who spent some time in the 1980s homeless while trying to care for his young son and make it through a stockbroker internship. The film is fictionalized but stays true to Gardner's struggle...
Published on June 9, 2007 by mirasreviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great if you didn't read the book
If you didn't read the book then, this is an excellent film, however, for those of us that read the book this movie is a big disappoinment. I know that a film based on a book has to be truncated to fit the average 2-3 hour movie time span but, the way that they told the story in this film is ridiculous. I won't give away the story but, the movie skipped a lot of important...
Published on April 6, 2007 by Amazon Customer
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will Smith's Strong, Urgent Performance Elevates this Reality-Based Tearjerker.,
"The Pursuit of Happyness" is an unabashed tearjerker about the American Dream and commitment to family in the face of great odds. It was inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, who spent some time in the 1980s homeless while trying to care for his young son and make it through a stockbroker internship. The film is fictionalized but stays true to Gardner's struggle for success and dedication to his son. Gardner's autobiography, which goes by the same title, was actually published after the film was written. In San Francisco, 1981, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) can't make ends meet selling portable bone density scanners, while his embittered wife Linda (Thandie Newton) waitresses 2 shifts a day. Chris spies a man with an enviable sportscar on the street one day and asks him what he does for a living. He's a stockbroker. So Chris decides that's what he'll be. He must be at the top of his class after 6 months in Dean Witter's competitive internship program to be hired. Meanwhile, Chris has no wife, no money, no paying job, and a 5-year old son (Jaden Smith).
A story of hardship and hard work, paternal love and frustration, could easily be too saccharine for words. It's saved from this fate by Chris Gardner's desperation. Behind his indomitable pluck, Gardner is truly desperate. He has no money, no home, uncertain prospects, and the responsibility of providing for a young child. He hides his circumstances from his colleagues. He's spends an inordinate amount of energy chasing errant bone scanners around town. He compromises his ethics. His single-mindedness eventually takes a toll on his son. Chris is struggling for his life. And his financial problems are something the audience can understand and may themselves fear. That's why "The Pursuit of Happyness" works so well. Credit is due Will Smith's Oscar-nominated performance and Italian director Gabriele Muccino's understanding of intense emotions painted with small strokes.
The DVD (Sony 2007): There are 4 featurettes, the song "I Can" by Bebe Winans and Dave Koz (5 min, audio), and a feature commentary. "Making Pursuit: An Italian Take on the American Dream" (17 min) interviews Gabriele Muccino, Will Smith, and the producers about choosing Muccino to direct. Muccino talks about filming in San Francisco and working in English. "Father and Son: On Screen and Off" (7 min) recounts casting Jaden Smith after auditioning hundreds of other children, and Will Smith talks about working with his son. "The Man Behind the Movie: A Conversation with Chris Gardner" (12 min) interviews Gardner about his participation in the film, and Will Smith talks about learning from him. "Inside the Rubik's Cube" (6 min) is a fun short documentary on the persistent popularity of the Cube. There is a nice audio commentary by director Gabriele Muccino, in English. Muccino tells us how he got the job, discusses themes, recreating the 1980s, Will Smith's trust, locations, and some technical details. Subtitles are available for the film in English, French, Spanish. Dubbing available in French.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pursuit... Yes,
Those who have written reviews for this movie of anything less than 5 stars have NO idea what it means to be lower than low, at the absolute bottom with no visible way out. You see, in order to understand the struggle, you have to have LIVED it. I understand this movie because I HAVE lived it. Some other review cited that it took far too long to display the epic struggle that left us no time to relish the moment of success. I submit that were it not for the INTENSE struggle he faced, there would BE no reason to celebrate his ultimate success. It would have less meaning. I have NEVER cried so hard as I did at the end of this movie. During the course of the film, you FEEL his pain of wanting to be just that little bit more than what he felt himself to be. You yearn for him to experience that one bit of happiness to know that he doesn't HAVE to sell his blood anymore to make a few bucks to be able to fix a light in a bone density scanner he sells to provide a meal and a place to live for a few weeks for himself and his son. This man went through more tribulations than any of the other reviewers here have seen in their own lives or the family and friends that surround them. If you want to see a film that TRULY lifts you up by the climax, see the pursuit of happyness, and IGNORE the many discouraging reviews from people who have no clear understanding of personal anguish and eventual triumph. Will Smith would be hard pressed to ever again be handed a script for a more heart wrenching and satisfying movie. 5 stars +++
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tale Of Two Struggles: Fatherhood And Financial,
If you're not a feel-good person, it's still okay to watch THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS. Although it has some of those moments, it stands out more as a story of human struggle than a touchy-feely film. That it's based on the real-life events of Chris Gardner also increases its emotional heft as the story pulls you in. But there is a bit of cheating that must be mentioned....
Most of the story's impact comes from the father/son relationship between Chris (Will Smith, THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE) and his son Christopher (played by Smith's real-life son, Jaden). The interactions between these two are so natural and effortless that it makes watching the film a sheer joy. But herein lay the trap. If any other young actor had played beside Will Smith, I don't think it would've come off as easy. But one can't blame the film team for making this decision. Jaden Smith was the perfect choice, no matter how unfair it might seem to other father/son film's that struggle with the easy-going nature of similar characters.
Viewing one man's dogged determination to maintain a functioning relationship with his son would be admirable in today's society no matter what. Especially coming from a financially destitute and broken family. That Chris Gardner refused to give up on his dream of becoming a successful father and businessman is felt throughout the movie as Will Smith's Academy Award nominated performance comes tumbling off the screen. Losing everything only to scramble back up and be repeatedly challenged is nothing new to cinema, but Smith's completely believable performance is something of a wonder. The real Chris Gardner put himself on loan to Smith and the production so that everything had that authentic feel. It also meant that there were fewer liberties taken with the story, as Gardner wouldn't allow certain omissions or changes.
The big surprise, though, was Jaden Smith, Will Smith's son. His corny jokes, tickle-fests, vivid imagination (dinosaurs?), and touching dialogue all moved the story into brighter territory during the darkest times. Thandie Newton (CRASH) also plays well as Smith's alienated wife but has little screen time.
Learning to never give up on your dreams is something we can all take to the bank. And Mr. Gardner certainly did. He's now a multimillionaire who's assisting the poor in the very San Francisco neighborhood where this sobering story takes place. Giving back to the homeless shelters and getting notice out about hunger in our own cities, Chris Gardner is not only a success, he's smart and thoughtful. If for no other reason than that, you should watch The Pursuit of Happyness.
(Note: At the very end of the film, the real Chris Gardner has a cameo spot while wearing a very expensive suit. The film makers did this in order to show how far the Mr. Gardner had come.)
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding.,
Dont listen to the people who think this film is depressing. This film is about nothing but optimism, not giving up, Integrity and triumph of human soul. You only need to watch the interview with real Chris gardner (included on DVD) to see the incredible human he is and his wisdom. a very uplifting and inspiring story.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best movie of 2006!,
The one film that sticks out in my mind as the best movie of 2006 is The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. This movie is based on a book of the same title authored by Chris Gardner.
In the movie, Gardner is a medical product salesman who ends up splitting up with his wife and ends up homeless with his 5 year-old son. Determined to not give up, Gardner endures homelessness and ends up pursuing an internship for a stockbroker position at a major Wall Street investment firm. Despite the trials and tribulations Gardner went through, not only due to the lack of a roof over his head but also the hard work related to his internship and even an IRS seizure of his money to boot, Gardner's endurance and hard work pays off.
The movie, and I am sure the book, is a testament to how anyone can get themselves out of poverty and become wealthy with hard work, persistence and determination. Gardner had an even bigger reason to work hard due to the need for him to provide a good life for his son.
The story of Chris Gardner's going from rags to riches is an inspiration for us all and all of the elements of this film makes for one heckuva great flick!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is there a happy ending?,
Will Smith takes a departure from his usual daredevilry to star in this most emphatic story about a man trying to make it in the world. Chris Gardner (Smith) has made a bad business decision: He spends his entire life savings on a batch of bone density scanners that he can't sell, and now his family is in deep financial jeopardy. His wife, Linda (Thandie Newton), is forced to work two jobs and his son is placed in a day care facility that looks like a makeshift sweatshop. Chris himself travels from clinic to clinic, trying (but failing miserably) to sell what looks like a giant paperweight.
On one of his daily escapades, Chris finds himself in front of the San Francisco Stock Exchange and has an epiphany that will change his life. He wants to be one of those happy people that seem to pour out the double doors everyday with their smiling faces, shining cars, and jingling pockets. In a last ditch I've-got-nothing-to-lose effort at "happyness", Chris enlists for a non-paying internship at a brokerage firm, armed with only a high school diploma and the ability to solve the Rubik's cube at a mind-boggling speed. However, the hits keep on coming: Chris loses his home, his wife and a few of his colossal paperweights while he and his son brave unbearable odds on the streets of San Francisco.
"The Pursuit of Happyness" will make you laugh, cry and empathize with a character that is executed to three dimensional perfection. Chris is a man who is willing to stake everything to go for a dream that most people would say was far beyond his reach. He is sick of hearing "no" all his life; he is fed up with having no money all the time; and he is tired of being emasculated by his embittered wife everyday. Chris' only source of inspiration is his eight year old son, a mascot egging him on with the simplest of smiles. No obstacle is going to deter him, even if it means sleeping in a public toilet. Will he make it? You have to watch the film!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great father & son story,
It could be said that this is a movie about a number of things: The pursuit of the American dream, never giving up, and that if you are prepared to do whatever it takes, you can probably achieve anything. I think it also hints at the question of whether money, success and power can ever bring happiness in themselves but, wisely, it's a question the movie leaves largely unanswered.
For me though, this movie is about a man who has an absolute and unwavering love for, and commitment to, his young son. As a man who didn't have a good relationship with his father in the past and doesn't have one at all in the present, I found the movie painfully difficult, yet exhilaratingly beautiful to watch. If more black men (or maybe even men in general) were this committed to their sons, I remember thinking, this world would be a very different place.
The movie is based on the real-life story of the real-life Chris Gardner, a bright and talented San Francisco man who falls on bad times, suffers the breakdown of his relationship with his wife and eventually winds up homeless. Thandie Newton gives a strong performance as the waspish shrew of a wife who eventually naffs off and leaves Chris to it. (Well, to be fair to her, she did want to take the child with her but Chris put his foot down). Through all the struggles that follow, Chris always has his son at his side and this is the heart of the story.
Though this is probably my favourite Will Smith performance since 1998's "Enemy Of The State" (and a performance that has earned Mr Smith a Best Actor Oscar nomination), for me it's his son, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, who is the real star of this movie. For a first-timer, he gives a barnstorming, heartwrenching perfomance. And he's such a cutie too. I've become a hardened, jaded, unfeeling and cynical old man over the years and hardly anything touches me anymore but this movie, I felt. This one made me cry. I cried the first time I watched it and I cried even more when I watched it a second time. I can't wait for the DVD. I don't know what it is, but this movie has something special. If you haven't seen it already, I urge you to do so. Inspirational on so many levels. The real Chris Gardner makes a brief cameo appearance towards the end of the movie which just wraps it up beautifully.
How come no soundtrack though? Apart from the score by Andrea Guerra, which granted is very good, the movie had some great music by George Benson, Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, Seal and The Glide Ensemble among others. I really hope they release one.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pursuit of Happyness is the most inspirational film of 2006.,
Inspirational movies touch your heart. They have something that tells about ourselves and things we can relate to. "The Pursuit of Happyness" is the most inspirational film of 2006. Not only because we understand and care about the main characters, but also there is an important message which is to follow your dreams no matter what. The road might be difficult--maybe to the point of despair--but if you finish the journey, your life will change forever.
The movie starts in San Francisco in early 1980s. Family man Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is going through difficult financial problems. He is an unsuccessful salesman who struggles everyday trying to sell a medical machine--bigger than a microwave oven--that not many doctors want. He carries one everyday. Unfortunately, his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) doesn't make much money either. They have a five-year-old son Christopher (Jaden Smith) who Chris takes to a day care center everyday. Things go from bad to worse; the money they make is not enough to sustain them. Chris sees an opportunity, he wants to become a stock broker and gets an internship, but there is no pay until he is chosen. Linda cannot stand the poverty they live in and decides to leave him for good. Chris wants to stay with his son in San Francisco, she doesn't fight back. Now he has to take care of him and pursuit a dream to become a stock broker and leave the poverty they are in. "Will" he make it?
A compelling film, "The Pursuit of Happyness" follows the old dramatic underdog formula that most of us are used to by now, but it's done correctly this time around because you really care about the main character. In other words, Will's performance is what makes this movie great. We see Chris going through a lot of problems, not only economically but emotionally as well. Linda is sick and tired of dealing with all his issues--she is a mean and unlikable character to say the least--and poor little Christopher is always asking questions. These situations create moments of despair to Chris throughout the film. Although it seems for moments that the whole city is against him, Will Smith's character never gives up his hopes. He is smart, likable and persuasive--he is also excellent at the 80s famous Rubik's cube which gives the audience a feeling of how smart this guy is. He sends the right message to the audience of what he is about.
We appreciate the credibility and realism of this film due to great photography and costume design--the look and feel of the subway scenes are excellent. These elements give us the impression that we are back in the 80s. There are some moments where the movie drags a bit and it might feel soapy for some, but those small little flaws do not affect the final product.
Probably an Oscar contender for best actor, "The Pursuit of Happyness" is a touchy film that gives us lessons of perseverance, love and the American dream. Great acting, inspiring story, and the survival factor make the film one of the best dramas of 2006. We recommend it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This move was inspiring,
I have always enjoyed Will Smith's movies (I missed "Wild Wild West" so I dodged the bullet on that), but I was astounded at how deeply moving this movie was. His portrayal of a man fighting against poverty, and burdened by having a family on top of that was eerily convincing. I have a good friend who is a successful author who went through much of the same. Living out of his car, showering daily at the gym, working every day and writing at coffeehouses every night, basically doing whatever it took to stay alive and create a better future, while doing everything he could to keep anyone from finding out that he was homeless. Now he has a line of successful books and helps out others who are in need.
To me this is more than a movie about someone overcoming adversity: this is a message of hope to anyone who is able to see this movie and realize that they are not alone, and not unable to change the future. I did some research and found the numbers of people living in their cars, vans, station wagons, and RV's in America is staggering. These people work next to us, go to movies, read books, pay taxes, and in every way are citizens, except for their ability to afford rent. Living in Los Angeles I know how expensive real estate is in California. Not every job pays enough to afford even a small apartment, but someone needs to make our espressos and Big Macs or our way of living would cease. Knowing this makes this movie so much more poignant, so much more of a social commentary that it is not easy being poor, and even harder pulling yourself out of poverty when so many simply give in and accept it. But it gives hope to those who need it most. I applaud Will Smith for making a movie with this gravity in between his more action-oriented projects.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warm,
This review is from: The Pursuit of Happyness (Full Screen Edition) (DVD)
You can feel the love between the Father & Son. He was determined to make it and he did. Will Smith and his boy were great! I rarely comment on any movie but this one got to me. I held my child pretty much the whole movie. It makes you realize that you would do anything for your child, and to really be greatful of what you have.
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The Pursuit of Happyness (Full Screen Edition) by Gabriele Muccino (DVD - 2007)