Pursuit of Happyness, The

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Jan 222007
 

The Pursuit of HappinessA struggling salesman (Will Smith) takes custody of his son (Jaden Smith) as he’s poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor.

Directed by
Gabriele Muccino

Genres
Biography, Drama

Cast
Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton, Brian Howe, James Karen, Dan Castellaneta, Kurt Fuller, Takayo Fischer, Kevin West, George Cheung, David Michael Silverman, Domenic Bove, Geoff Callan, Joyful Raven, Scott Klace

Here’s the deal: It’s real, it’s heavy, and it’s inspirational, but NOT AT ALL cheesy. Don’t like that? Don’t see it. I won’t say much else. I will say that Will Smith was shockingly good now that he’s paid his dues with “Men in Black” and “Bad Boys.”

I was very happy that this film never got political and blamed Reagan for the number of “down on their luck” people that were shown, nor was the race card ever pulled out. It was also refreshing that Smith’s character never blamed anybody for his troubles.

On one hand, the film reinforces the great American myth of the self-made man and equal opportunity. Myths are not necessarily false simply for being myths–we can make some of them true by choice, and our belief in this myth still helps make America great. Free-market capitalism is not the cure to all ills–surely it is the source of many ills–but it does open social doors that nothing else can even budge. On the other hand, if you can leave this movie without a burning indignation that any American child of any race should have to struggle just to have a place to sleep, you must be cynical indeed. This movie doesn’t get on a soapbox, not even for a second–it just tells a real-life story that owns you before you know it.

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