Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

Yes, it is spelt with a “Y” instead of an “I” in case you are wondering. The movie revolves around the life of Chris Gardner (Will Smith), a salesperson who tries to make ends meet each month and ultimately, the job he currently has is the biggest blunder of his life. Having to sell one machine a month proves hard enough and his wife (Thandie Newton) refuses to live a life full of financial pressure anymore, leaving the father to care for the five year old Christopher (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith). Struggle after struggle came with the sales job until Gardner finally got his break when he was accepted into an internship programme at a successful stock brokerage firm.

The internship is his only hope for a better life for him and Christopher which is why he accepts the offer even though there is no salary to help them get by in the next 6 months. Having being evicted from home, stranded on the street, left with only two suits to wear at workplace, reduced to seeking shelter at a subway toilet did not cause Gardner to falter with his mission to finally afford to send Christopher to a day care centre that can spell happiness correctly.

Did he make it? Was the internship the answer to a pursuit of happiness? Well, if he didn’t become one of the most successful share broker in the States today, this movie wouldn’t be made in the first place. That’s common sense but it was really the question that haunted me all along the movie: If he had a better job, would it equal to happiness?

Well, one thing proved right. The person who said “Money is the root to all evil” has definitely had two sides of the argument analysed and pondered over. Poverty makes people push the limits and in a world where materialism can make you transgress, people on the streets kill each other for $5. Yet it is impossible to progress in life if you do not have the right notes.

For Gardner in this movie, money equals to food, shelter, and an education for Christopher that he himself was deprived from as a kid because his family couldn’t afford it. Although Gardner was a smart and talented, he did not have the right credentials for a good job thus causing him to live in detriments. Desperate to not let that happen to his son, he defies the world and took charge by taking a necessary risk.

It is interesting to learn how human quality was given such a strong attribute in this movie. Gardner made it by genuinely being himself and this creates a sense of triumph in every viewer when he overcomes a hurdle. We gasp for breath when the X-Ray machine was stolen by a hippie girl, cheers him on when he grabs it back from her a few weeks later and cry with him when he plays a make-believe game with Christopher in the subway’s toilet.

No wonder the movie only has one nomination in the Academy Awards, which was for Will Smith’s probably-not-as-good-as-Ali performance but still the man deserved the nomination. Jaden was also cute and endearing as his character should be but you can see the pain of struggle and courage in his eyes. Now, that’s pure characterisation as it comes from a kid who might have been driving in a mini Benz since he was 2. This movie deserves a watch for those reasons as well as a captivating screenplay that captures what Los Angeles essentially is from the point of view of a man who walks its street everyday.

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