It is very hard to believe that this great movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness”, arguably Will Smith’s best performance came out almost 10 years ago. The best part about this film is the unbelievable story and the fact that all that happens in this movie is true. Chris Gardner, who is played by Will Smith, was a man in his 30’s who was always just about go to under financially. He was married, with one young son and his latest and riskiest current method of making a living was buying and then selling portable x-ray machines. There are several scenes in the beginning of this movie showing a large number of these x-ray machines in Gardner’s apartment which meant that now that he had invested in so many of them, he now had to sell all of them to make a profit. The contrast between the extremely intelligent man we grow to know Gardner is, compared to the man he was at the beginning of the movie who is trying to sell portable x-ray machines is one of the most amazing parts of this story.
The terrifying message behind this film is that homelessness can come to any of us and all it might take are just a few bad decisions or stupid mistakes which very often are born out of desperation. I know this first hand because some years ago when I was 19 years old, I was homeless on a bus myself. The beginning of this great film shows Gardner trying and mostly failing at his attempts to sell portable x-ray machines to different doctors and hospitals in the area. As Gardner’s desperation grows, his marriage goes from bad to worst and eventually his wife, played by Thandi Newton leaves him to raise their son, played by Will Smith’s own son Jaden Smith alone. What follows are horrible scenes of standing in the lines of homeless shelters and sleeping overnight in very depressing locations including the men’s room of a subway with his young son. What is worse and more depressing about all this is that Gardners 7-year-old son is along for this horrible ride through the horrors of homelessness. His cries of desperation and constant questions to his father as to what is going on is heartbreaking and at times impossible to watch.
The other part of this movie is the most triumphant part and what turns this from a story of tragic disaster into a story of survival . Through an intern program with a major financial institution, Gardner sees an opportunity to save his life and the life of his son. But when he enrolls he has no idea that the intern program, which hires only a small percentage of the interns in the program as full-time employees, pays no money. This only leads to more homelessness and desperation for Gardner and his son and Gardner’s pursuit of this last-ditch effort to save his life and survive is one of the most inspiring I have ever seen in any movie.
The end of this movie, which I will not spoil, has one of the most emotional endings I have ever seen in any movie and because of this last scene, Will Smith should have won his first Academy Award, although he was nominated.
If you have never seen the Pursuit of Happyness you owe it to yourself to see it because it is a one of a kind great movie. The movie spells Happiness “Happyness” for reasons that are not really explained in the movie, but I can only figure that they wanted the word Happy fully spelled out somewhere in the title. Another message from this movie would be that to be happy, like everything else in life, there is a price to pay.