The Bottom Line
- Will Smith does well in a more dramatic role than his usual fare
- Chris Gardner's story definitely deserved to be made into a film
- Unfortunately this isn't the film Gardner's story deserved
- Jaden Smith's a fine little actor but this bit of casting is really distracting
- Starring Will Smith, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, and Thandie Newton
- Jaden Smith makes his feature film acting debut alongside his dad in the film
- The real Chris Gardner does a cameo at the very end of the movie
- Rated PG-13 for some language
- Theatrical Release Date: December 15, 2006
Guide Review - "The Pursuit of Happyness" Movie Review
Based on true events, The Pursuit of Happyness (the incorrect spelling is explained in the film) follows Chris Gardner (Smith) as he struggles to achieve the American dream. Chris has everything going against him. His wife (Thandie Newton) left him and he's raising his 5-year-old son alone, without any real income. Determined to provide for his son Christopher (Jaden Smith) no matter what, Chris enters an unpaid internship program at a brokerage firm in hopes of landing the one paid position available at the end of the training program.
Sleeping in bathrooms, homeless shelters, and shabby hotels when he's got the money to afford a room, Chris never gives up on the idea he can land a job and provide his son with a better life. Will Chris be able to grab the brass ring? Will his son be raised in an environment of love? If you watched the 20/20 special on the real Gardner, you know exactly how this story turns out.
To Sum It Up
If Jaden Christopher Syre Smith didn't turn in such a terrific performance, the cries of nepotism might overwhelm anything else to do with the release of The Pursuit of Happyness. However the younger Smith inherited talent from his parents and so he actually deserved the big break. That said, there are too many scenes in The Pursuit of Happyness that feel as though they're included in the film just to show off the close relationship between dad and son. Anyone arguing the need for an overabundance of scenes between the two because The Pursuit of Happyness is based on real events is assuming the story faithfully follows reality. It doesn't. Chris Gardner's real son was only two at the time of the events portrayed in the film.
If patience isn't a virtue you possess, pass on Pursuit of Happyness. The film takes forever to get going yet once it's underway, it doesn't seem to ever want to stop.