The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The Pursuit of Happyness is a perfect example of an otherwise decent film that the coming attraction and publicity managed to ruin. I seriously knew just about the entire plot before I even watched the movie, and I don’t think that there was even one plot twist I was surprised about! Too bad that was the case because it significantly detracted from the experience.

The story features Will Smith portraying Chris Gardner. It's a real life "rags to riches" story that anyone who thinks the American dream is dead should watch. Gardner is a down on his luck medical salesman who is barely a paycheck away from bankruptcy, with only a high school education. When the opportunity to enter a stock broker trainee program presents itself, Gardner has to grab it. The real catch is that it involves a six months internship- without any paycheck (seriously, how do they expect folks to live?). To make matters worse, after the training, they only hire one out of the twenty, and the rest get nothing, and can’t apply the training to anything else as it is specific to that one company only. Under the best of circumstances it would be hard for one to work for six months for free, but Gardner has a family to support, and his wife is already working continuous "double shifts." Under very difficult circumstances, this intelligent guy makes the most of this opportunity, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I generally like a stand up and cheer flick, but The Pursuit of Happyness I found more exasperating than inspirational. Every time I didn't think he could drop any further, he manages to, whether it's losing his apartment, his car, his bank account is empty, or the place of last resort to spend the night has no room for him. Of note, Will Smith's real life son ably plays his son in the film. One criticism is that the scene in the Baptist Church with the church choir singing goes on way too long to say that one must keep the faith in this type of situation.

The Pursuit of Happyness
is an average film, with a predictable plot. If we keep that in mind, and toss away the hype, we can enjoy it for what it is. Those looking for some inspiration should give it a screening. After the film, those nostalgic for the 80's can break out their Rubik's Cube.

Overall Grade: B

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