Seeing as I'm an almost weekly (and sometimes more) moviegoer, I decided to start a column here reviewing the movies that I see.
What: The Pursuit of Happyness
Rating: PG-13 - some language
Length: 1 hr. 56 min.
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Thandie Newton
Opens: December 15, 2006; nationwide
The following synopsis is from Fandango:
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a bright and talented, but marginally employed salesman. Struggling to make ends meet, Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of his dream of a better life for the two of them.
My first thought after seeing The Pursuit of Happyness was this: "Man, this would have been much better if the preview hadn't spoiled every plot turn." In some ways, The Pursuit of Happyness is clichéd so much it can lapse into being boring. Especially if you've seen a preview, no plot turn comes as the slightest bit of a surprise, and almost every joke comic Will Smith delivers was deflated before the movie began because we've already heard it - in the preview.
Nonetheless, excellent performances by a serious-looking Will Smith and an extremely natural Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Will Smith's real son, raise a stale and clichéd story into something a little more memorable. Even as unremarkable as the plot is, the movie is strikingly realistic in its portrayal of its main characters, showing Gardner's flaws as well as his many unappreciated talents. As he admits in his voice-over narration, some parts of Gardner's life are "being stupid", from entrusting a $250 machine to a hippie girl to running away from a taxi without paying a fare he can't afford. It is this harsh realism, excellently conveyed by the stellar acting jobs of the two Smiths, that puts real flavor into what would otherwise be a clichéd story of the one in a million paupers who manage to use their intrepidity to rise above their humble beginnings.