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The Pursuit of Happyness

Of all the states throughout this nation, the happiest by far is the state of relaxation 

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Pursuit of Happyness

Director: Gabriele Muccine

Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton

No that is not how you spell happiness and yes it is explained in the film. Now that’s out of the way, here’s what it’s actually about.

In a shameless publicity stunt, Will and Jaden Smith take on father and son roles in this heart-warming tale about a down and out salesman who, through sheer determination and love for his son, eventually becomes a billionaire.

Based on the true story of Chris Gardner, now CEO of his own stockbrokerage firm, Gardner Rich, we follow the story of his struggle to raise his son alone, despite being homeless, and trying to establish himself as a stockbroker via an unpaid and highly competitive internship. At the start of the film Chris is selling new bone density scanners to hospitals, many of whom see them to be unnecessary. Unable to pay his rent his wife leaves him, but Chris demands custody of his son. Dedicated to giving his son a better life, he applies for an internship at a stockbrokers firm. Unfortunately the position is unpaid and Chris and his son find themselves homeless, queuing for shelters each night.

This is a demanding role for Smith, who we now all associate with either the Fresh Prince or Men in Black. Not what you would call particularly substantial or serious roles. However he is on top form here and no one could doubt his capabilities as a serious actor. He handles the very serious issues of homelessness and single parenthood with great sensitivity, and you get the impression that a lot of research went into the role. There are some comedic moments, as one misfortune after another seems to befall Chris, but they are certainly not ridiculous, and help to build up a sense of Chris as a man who, despite the precariousness of his situation, refuses to lose a shred of dignity or pride. Thandie Newton also plays a brief but role as Chris’ frustrated, overworked and disenchanted wife Linda.

What really makes this film, however, is the publicity stunt I mentioned previously. Shameless though it may be, it works well and the relationship between Smith and his son and the close bond that they very obviously share is key in jerking those tears out from behind your eyes. And when they start you won’t be able to stop!

Steph Janes

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Summer Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Summer Term (35mm)
2016/2017 Spring Term (digital)