Will Smith knocks one out of the park with Pursuit of Happyness. Read on:
When I mentioned to a friend that I was covering Will Smith’s new movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, the only thing he said to me was “make sure you ask Will Smith why the hell they misspelled ‘happiness’.” Well, rest assured, Steve, the answer to that question (and many others) lies in the movie itself; besides, Will Smith stopped returning my calls months ago (if only I hadn’t pressed him so hard on that “Parents Just Don’t Understand” follow-up, “Parents Really Just Don’t Understand”). But at any rate, Smith gives the performance of his career in a movie for which phrases like “heart-warming” and “life-affirming” were made, or if not they would certainly have had to be invented.
Smith plays Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who spends his days trying to sell expensive, unnecessary medical equipment to doctors who don’t need it. When he randomly runs into a Wall Street trader who informs him all one needs to do his job is be good with people and numbers, Chris decides to pursue a coveted internship at a brokerage; unfortunately, the job is unpaid, which means that he will have to support himself and his son Christopher (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith) without any promise of a paying job in the future.
There isn’t much more to tell about Happyness in terms of plot, but it’s not because nothing happens; rather, the obstacles that Chris faces are likely familiar to many or most people who watch, read about or follow underdog stories like this. The difference between this tale and others, however, is that it’s based upon a true story – naturally with some of the details changed. For example, the real Chris Gardner’s son was only about a year old, not five as in the film; whether this was changed because the real story seemed too outlandish or just because Smith’s son Jaden was available to play the role remains unknown, but rather than undermining the believability of the tale it adds a counterpoint – namely, the child’s perspective – that enriches Gardner’s struggles.
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In theaters now