Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pursuit of Happyness—Review

Who's in it? The Fresh Prince of Bel Air—Will Smith—his son, and what looks like the woman from Crash that gets felt up by the Cops. Might not be her though. (Confirmed, it's her)
What's the deal? Based on a true story, a smart guy (Smith) makes a bad business deal and ends up alone with his son on the streets. He gets picked for an unpaid internship at Dean Witter and must make it through some extremely tough times with his son as they live on the streets—all while preparing for his big exam that may or may not get him a permanent, paying job.
How much of it is true? No idea, but I remember reading up on this guy when the movie came out and I think the gist is pretty much there.
Is "happyness" a typo? No, it gets worked into the movie. The whole pursuit of happiness angle works well, but it's one of those things that, if it's actually true (that the real guy actually thought of Ben Franklin), then it works well. Otherwise, it's a bit contrived and semi-cheesy. Kind of like the whole James Frey thing.
The role of the rubik's cube in this movie: Pretty major, actually. I guess it was all the rage in 1981 and no one could solve them. Fresh Prince though, does, and it gets him the internship. Again, this is cool if it's true, kind of lame if it's not (research: rubik's cube was Smith's idea, didn't actually happen; for more on the disparities go here). But all this is now, after I've seen it. Throughout the movie it works, since I get sucked into movies pretty deep while I watch.
Will Smith's kid, is he any good? The kid's got charisma and he's cute—so he's halfway there.
One thing I kept waiting for and never happened, which was surprising/unrealistic: No racism. This was a business (stockbrokering) with mostly white, college-educated men, and I didn't detect an ounce of racism in this movie (plus it's 1981, remember). Although him being treated like an assistant by the one guy could pass for it, it's certainly not overt or meant to be noticed. Plus he shows up with his son in front of a beautiful CEO's house (the house is beautiful, not the CEO, FYI) and the CEO shows no issues with a black man in this neighborhood, on his porch. Instead, he invites him to sit in his box at the 49ers game. Now, I may have just been coming out of the womb in 1981, but wouldn't he have encountered a fare share of blockades due to his color? Or was the intention of the producers to show that, when it comes to stockbrokers, the only color that matters is green and not black and white.
Where I got that last line from: A PBS special on blacks in Hollywood.
Trailer teaser: They showed the best parts in the trailer, what the hell? Respect to this movie that even though I had seen the most powerful parts, they were still strong enough to swift-kick me in the guy, at which point I started to cry.
Cry factor: 8/10 (10 being Cool Runnings, the ultimate guy-crying movie)
It's incredible but I totally buy: How he kept going to work in a professional-looking suit, even when he was homeless. This was a no-brainer on his part—you gotta look the part to get the part.
Wrap up: This is a great example of a movie with good writing, good acting, and a great story. No lasers or special effects or made up accents. It's great to see an "old fashioned" movie that's really good.

Here is the real-life Chris Gardner in a recent photo:

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