Sunday, December 17, 2006
The Pursuit of Happyness
Inspired by Chris Gardner's true story, this film is perfect for the holidays. Chris Gardner was a smart man dealt a tough hand. Struggling to make ends meet with only a high school degree, he hustles everyday for his family. After his wife (played by an effective Thandie Newton) has had enough and leaves, it is up to Chris to keep it together for him and his 5 year old son.
Will Smith is outstanding as Gardner. He is certain to pick up an Academy Award nomination for his work here. Not one minute of his performance rings false. You feel his pain, frustration and exhaustion in every frame. Smith's film son is portrayed by his real life son, Jaden Smith, and he does a fine job holding his own against his dad. I don't think he's quite ready for his acceptance speech yet but if he wants to follow in his dad's footsteps, he's got a future.
Credit the screen writer and director (as well as Smith) for a story that stays honest and never gets too sappy. It's a dog eat dog world and you have to credit Gardner's resolve to stay in step with the pack. Smith's performance and this story are both an inspiration.