Monday, February 05, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

Genre: Drama (your average Hollywood film)
Rating: 3/5 stars ***

Based on the life of Chris Gardner, a self-made millionaire, this drama stars Will Smith as a poor salesman who struggles to make 'ends-meat' for his family. Set in San Francisco in the year 1981, Gardner hopes of scoring big by selling a revolutionary a medical bone density scanner leaves him disappointed when he fails to sell them to hospitals. His life is a make up of constant obstacles through homelessness, jail time, stolen assets, and parking tickets. However, he is given some hope when Dean Witter, the president of a brokerage firm, offers him an internship program that he could not refuse.

On Saturday (Feb 3rd), I made a trip to Waterloo for the second time this year for two purposes: university small group and visiting my girlfriend. Small group didn't start until late afternoon, so my girlfriend, Jacqueline, and I decided to catch a movie at the local Galaxy Cinema. It's been a while since I sat in a theater to watch a movie, maybe because this form of entertainment is a little overpriced for starving students like me. Thankfully, I was given some gift cards over the Christmas break which made it possible for me to embark into another theatrical experience like this one. We ended up watching, Pursuit of Happyness. We didn't know too much about the plot or content; I just heard good things about it from friends and family. I don't know if there's a target age group that the theater caters to (although there were many seniors), but my experience felt like another high school dating ritual. Maybe because I was alone with my girlfriend and we purchased over-sized drinks and popcorn (we usually don't, but it was part of the gift card deal), which made the atmosphere very teeny-bopperish to say the least. I think a good way of looking at it is an episode of Save by the Bell, where more than 80% of dates happen in a theaters. Oh well...despite the Zach and Kelly moment, the purpose was to enjoy a quality Hollywood film, no hanky-panky. :p

I say Hollywood, because there is nothing more to this movie than your average American film. The message is clear in this movie: Money means happiness. Pursuit of Happyness is just another way of telling us how important it is for people of the United States to pursue the American Dream. Maybe an alternative title is, The Pursuit of the American Dream. Although, I can give credit to the screenplay writer for doing a great job at depicting a person's world view in life. Nevertheless, Jacqueline and I did enjoy this movie for the father and son relationship of Chris and Christoper Gardner Jr...from the eye-tearing and heart throbbing moments to messages of determination and hope. “Don't ever let someone tell you that you can't do something.” “You got a dream, you gotta protect it...You want something? Go get it. Period.”

Pursuit of Happyness? Nice try, but no cigar.


Anonymous Ian said...

I would tend to disagree with what you're saying about what this movie is trying to portray. Chris Gardner struggled to make ends meet so he could provide for himself and his son, but i don't think the fact that he's going to be making the money which will enable him to do so is what makes him happy. Personally, i believe it is the knowledge that he will finally be able to provide for his family after all his determination that makes him happy, not the fact that he'll have money. Also, "Pursuit of the American Dream"?? I think the point of this movie may have been missed a bit. I say this because in the third to last scene in the movie (i may be a bit off on this) when Chris learns that he made it and got the job, the narrator (the voice of Will Smith - Chris Gardners) says something along the lines of "This part, this very small part of my life, is called Happiness" And it's short because it is the success after all the determination that he worked so hard for. If it was the pursuit of an American Dream the part of happiness would last longer because it would fall under the notion that the happiness is fulfilled. He wanted to become a better father, which needed determination and stamina. By getting the job at Dean Witter it enabled him to do so, but it was the determination to be a better parent that he was pursuing, not the money.

11:58 a.m., February 06, 2007  
Blogger Gordon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:59 a.m., February 07, 2007  
Blogger Gordon said...

thanks for your comment. i do agree with many of your points about this movie. it is fair to say that the pursuit of happiness is in hope and determination, which enables him to be a capable father. i believe too, that the sole reason of aspiring to work at a brokage firm is to support his family and not for the lust of money. BUT, i do have to disagree that this movie isn't about the American Dream. Remember that scene where Chris Gardner encounters a business man who drives a red convertible? the man replied that he was a stock broker, and at that moment, i wanted to throw up. Chris Gardner said, "Look at all these people, they look so happy" it's just the message that they are conveying, stock brokers are happy..iunno man.
can you justify that this movie isn't driven by American values?

10:02 a.m., February 07, 2007  
Anonymous Ian said...

I think i would need to watch it again to give a more substantial argument to this. However, i do think it's how you look at the movie. I don't think i can justify it isn't about the American Dream but i don't think you can justify that it is either, so i think it's all about perception. I think though "they all look so happy" has the word "Look" in it for a reason. He doesn't acknowledge that they are happy or why they are happy, but that they appear to be. For me, this word usage is a strong indicator that he is not 100% if they are happy, or why, but that's how it appears to be.

11:03 a.m., February 07, 2007  

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