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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Pursuit Of Happyness

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Judy Thorburn

The Pursuit Of Happyness

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"THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS" A STRONG 'WILL' MAKES IT HAPPEN

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

For some people life is a constant uphill battle with obstacles always getting in the way. It’s one step forward and then two steps backward. No one knows that better than Chris Gardner who, in real life, overcame what seemed like insurmountable odds to reach his dream. Gardner’s story of his rise from being homeless and committed to taking care of his young son, to becoming a successful multimillionaire was the focus of a segment on 20/20 and Oprah Winfrey’s show. The Pursuit of Happyness is based on Gardner’s remarkable rags to riches story and stars Will Smith and his adorable son, Jaden. As for the Y in the title, there is reason for the misspelling. When you see the film you will understand just how it fits.

The setting is 1981 San Francisco, and the opening has Smith as Chris Gardner in a scene that shows him playing a game of basketball with his son. In a voice over narration, Chris says that he met his father when he was 28 and he wants to make sure that this wouldn’t happen to his son. And yes, Gardner managed to keep his promise through thick and thin.

Making ends meet was hard for Gardner and his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) who spent their entire life savings on scores of bone density scanners that he was trying to sell to doctors and hospitals. She works a double shift in a laundry, but with no sales to pay for their young son’s day care and bills piling up, Linda comes to the end of her rope. Fed up with her husband’s dreams of making money that never materializes, Linda decides to leave, but Chris begs her to let their son stay with him. That’s my only problem with this scenario. How could a loving mother, who has a job, leave her son in the care of her out of work, almost destitute husband? What kind of logic is that?

Be that as it may, things go from bad to worse as Gardner desperately tries to land a coveted job as a stockbroker with Dean Witter where he can utilize his untapped abilities. To do so first takes competing in an intensive six-month internship program that offers no salary and with only one out of the twenty getting hired. In debt up to his eyeballs, Chris owes taxes, and because he can’t pay the rent is kicked out of his apartment, gets arrested and jailed for unpaid parking violations. Penniless and with no place to live, he winds up sleeping at a homeless shelter, but for not long. Eventually a subway restroom becomes the only available refuge and place for he and his son to sleep….at least until his relentless perseverance, hard work, amiable manner, and smarts wins him the job that will be the solution to all his problems and ultimately change his life.

The Pursuit of Happyness is not only about overcoming incredible hardship. Emotionally, it tears at your heart and isn’t easy to watch, as we follow Gardner and his son endure one unfortunate circumstance after another. No doubt, some creative license has been taken in bringing Garner’s story to screen. That’s par for the (Hollywood) course. However, at the core of this story is the loving relationship between a father and his son, which despite all the obstacles he faced gave Gardner the driving, powerful force to succeed and never give up hope.

Will Smith, showing the most range as an actor since “Ali”, gives a sincere and moving performance that is sure to garner him an Oscar nomination. It helped pairing Smith with his own son, since the genuine chemistry, bond and love, are apparent and worked to their advantage. In an interview on Oprah, Smith said that he put himself in Gardner’s shoes and “imagined a sense of failure as a parent. It was extremely powerful to do (this role) with my real son.”

So, as sad as Chris Garner’s real life predicaments were, the film leaves us with a happy true-to-life ending. No matter how bad it seems (and we know sometimes bad things happen to good people), with brains, determination, and skill you always have the chance to pull yourself up and fulfill the American dream. It goes to show there is no “why” in the pursuit of happiness.
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