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Happiness with a y?
The Pursuit Of Happyness (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
The Pursuit Of Happyness (DVD)
Advantages: A good vibe film, Will Smith
Disadvantages: The misspelling of happyness drives me insane!
Chris Gardner is a travelling salesman, reliant on the commission from his sales to pay the bills and rent. The job is not as profitable as he had hoped and he and his partner, Linda, who works shifts in a factory, are struggling to make ends meet. But Chris has a plan. He wants to become a stockbroker. The only problem is, the only way to become one is to try to get an unpaid internship for six months. His pushiness gets him the internship, but Linda has had enough and leaves him and their son, Christopher. After losing their flat and becoming homeless, Chris is forced to reconsider his options. Will he ever achieve his ambition of becoming a stockbroker and be able to provide for his son?
I have put off watching this film until now for one reason only; I cannot bear bad spelling at the best of times, but to me, in this world full of people who already struggle to spell properly, to release a film the title of which is blatantly misspelt, is madness. Having now watched the film, the misspelling does make more sense - and Chris does point out that it should be an i and not a y - but I still think the title of the film should be correctly written. I am glad that I gave the film a chance in the end though, and, of course, there are worse crimes than bad spelling in this world!!
The basic premise of the film, a poor man with a dream that he wants to come true at all costs, is very appealing, if not exactly original, all the more so because it is based on a true story. It is always inspiring to know that there are people out there who haven't been handed their livelihood on a plate. There is a feeling of Hollywood sentimentality about the film, but then, I didn't really expect anything else from a Hollywood blockbuster. What makes this film stand out from a whole host of similar films, for me at least, is the fact that Chris Gardner isn't made out to be perfect. In fact, there were times when I could have slapped him. I think he mistreated Linda and to put a child in the situation that he put his son in is reprehensible as far as I am concerned. This all manages to make him seem more human and the film was therefore more convincing.
I also like the fact that it tackled the issue of homelessness and how easy it is for people to suddenly find themselves in that situation. I think the fact that it the story takes place in the eighties when the economy was in trouble needs to be taken into consideration here - it is easy to wonder why Chris didn't just go out and get another job to pay the bills, but it probably wouldn't have been that easy for Chris to go out and find another job at the time.
I am not particularly a fan of Will Smith. I don't dislike him, but I did prefer his work before he became such a superstar - the rawness of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, for example. However, I thought he was excellent as Chris Gardner. Despite the fact that Chris annoyed me as a character at times, Will managed to balance this out with a vulnerability that I didn't really expect to see in him - he almost had me in tears at times and I really did find myself hoping that everything would turn out right for him. Casting Will's son, Jaden, as Christopher, seems to have been a good idea - certainly the two looked very comfortable together and I enjoyed their banter. Jaden showed maturity beyond his years as a small boy who knows that something is going terribly wrong in his father's life, yet isn't old enough to understand exactly what.
I also liked Thandie Newton as Linda. I didn't recognise her at first - she really looked care-worn and utterly at the end of her tether with life and was very convincing in her arguments with Chris. I would have liked to see more of her - it is a shame that she didn't have a larger role.
This isn't the best film that I have ever seen, but it does make a pleasant change to watch a feel-good film that is pretty much for all the family (although there is a 12 rating - to be honest, I'm not quite sure why - perhaps because of bad language?) and has a moral. I certainly don't think it can do any harm in today's society for children to realise that their parents sometimes have to struggle to give them things. Recommended, but I do wish they'd sort that spelling out!!
The DVD is available from play.com for £3.99. I am delighted to see that the title on the play.com website is followed by the correct spelling in brackets! Hurrah.
Running time: 117 minutes
Summary: Generally a good film