Pursuit of Happyness

Discussion in 'Movies' started by JediFonger, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. JediFonger

    JediFonger Producer

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  2. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    I think it's a solid oscar performer, especially for Will Smith and maybe writing and picture as well (doubtful on director).
     
  3. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I found this film exhausting to watch as it made its turn for the home stretch. How bad could it get for Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith)? Well, it gets pretty depressing for a guy betting it all on being a 1-in-20 shot to get a job as a stockbroker at Dean Witter in the early 1980's as he finagles his way into a 6-month internship with no salary and has major money woes, and basically struggles daily, while taking care of his son because the wife bails on him.

    Will Smith does a good job in the acting department, and his real-life son Jaden is cute enough to get the job done as little Christopher Gardner, but the script is simply too long, and features far too many running sequences for Will Smith to go chasing hippies and homeless people. Of course, when you see the "inspired by a real story" tag, you are left with a pretty predictable storyline, and the acting can't quite propel the film to greatness on most levels, and ends up being a decent way to spend a couple of hours, but it wouldn't be on my recommend list unless the potential viewer is a Will Smith fan.

    I didn't enjoy the heavy film grain look whenever the cameras are brought inside Gardner's apartment, it was jarring to me the multiple times it happened within the story, and I didn't think it enhanced the bleakness the director was going for with such a conscious decision to shoot in "low-light" condition to impart that graininess look to the footage.

    I give it 2.5 stars, or a grade of C+.
     
  4. Adam Sanchez

    Adam Sanchez Supporting Actor

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    Me and my Fiancee adored this movie. It just left us happy as we walked out of the theater.

    I hope Smith wins something for this. I rarely REALLY care if an actor wins anything but I sure hope he does in this case.

    His hard times did not get to me that much. I knew the outcome of the real life counterpart, and the intellegence and determination Chris has kept the movie going and kept if from being just a downer.

    *** Stars. Maybe More...
     
  5. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    The Pursuit of Happyness - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (7 out of 10)


    The film is so self assured that you almost forget just how elegant and well made it is. For example, the sequence of events leading up to the "really nice pants" comment in the trailer is just astounding edge-of-your-seat storytelling.

    But what really impressed me about the film is the incredible representation of fatherhood in the film. They nailed it without ever making it into a 'message'. Fatherhood is the engine of the story, but it's a matter of fact, not a "theme" in the sense of an overwrought scene with ridiculous dialogue. He's devoted determined an outstanding figure. This is a Jimmy Stewart role in the sense of It's a Wonderful Life and Will Smith is 100% believable. It's sort of a Gregory Peck or Gary Cooper role in some ways, but I think Jimmy Stewart is the better descriptor. Because I can imagine that aforementioned scene with the "really nice pants" line being delivered by Stewart, or the same tension in the rubicks cube scene being delivered by Stewart.

    Will Smith is superb, and hard to beat at the oscars this year, unless Peter O Toole dies in the next two and a half months I think Smith will win, deservedly.
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    BTW, Will Smith is going to make a great Jessie Jackson in a biopic, his Chris Gardner looked a bit like him with the flecks of grey in his hair.
     
  7. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    One word: blech. Completely emotionally unaffecting complete with Hallmark card witticisms and a main character who doesn't take any sort of responsibility for his lot in life. Add to that overt shades of racism the movie doesn't have the guts to tackle and the insane idea this man is superman.

    Sorry, if I wanted something like this I would have watched a movie of the week. At the very most a 5 out of 10.
     
  8. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    I thought this was pretty good, more as a study of fatherhood and determination, rather than the cliche rags to riches story. (It loses some of its power because we know the ending before it starts - as do most rags to riches stories, IMO.)

    Will Smith is very good, and his son is really good, for a kid that age (he's either got the genes, or he's just naturally good when he gets to interact with his "real dad"). The trailer does cover most of the best lines/scenes from the film, though.

    Sidenote: they filmed some of this on our street; several friends of my sons met Will Smith and his son, and got autographs; Will and his son also played pingpong at one of their friends' houses while "on break" - Smith made some real fans by being pretty cool and "hanging" with those kids. Our nextdoor neighbor's hedge and sidewalk entrance made it in the film, as did a house down and across the street from us by 2 doors, as Gardner and his son take the bus to see the senior pension guy to wangle his way to the 49ers game - that house is up the street a block and a half from us.
     
  9. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    I'm curious what movie you watched because the entire movie I watched was about never giving up responsibility for your life and pushing yourself forward. About not accepting your lot in life and reaching for more for yourself and your children.

    Superman? I didn't get that vibe at all, Job, maybe, but not Superman.

    Still trying to figure out the racism you decided to invent for the movie, unless you mean the misspelled word in Chinatown and the fact he was a rare minority in the exchange in the early eighties. It would surprise me more if that were inaccurate. or maybe it's racist--rather than financial reality--that he was poor and got evicted for it?
     
  10. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    Adam...I never said he doesn't take the responbility to pick himself up. I said he doesn't take the responsibility for where he is. Take the conversation with Christopher. A point is made to say the only person to blame is Linda for leaving and no one else. Chris does not admit any blame for buying the scanners, which was the root of their money problems.

    Second, I didn't use a capital "S" for Superman as in the character; I used it to describe the kind of man he is, as in a superman. This man is shown to be incredibly smart and capable of everything and anything he wants in life. He can fix machines, he can come up with smart sayings, he can run like the dickens, he can schmooze with the best of them...everything. That's what I ****** to. If he were that smart/gifted, then he would have found a way to go to college and get a better job.

    Which leads to the racism. I didn't invent anything. Yes, I understand it was the early 1980s and minorities weren't a force in corporate America at this time. However, consider: Chris is evicted by a white man; the three men who interview Chris are white; the internship program teacher-who treats Chris almost like a slave-is white; the people who run the homeless shelters-who turn Chris away at one point-are white.

    The movie is trying to say something about race relations in the early 80s. I don't think I invented anything of the sort.
     
  11. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    Okay I understand you more clearly now.
    Interesting distinction. I think Chris admits the scanners were a mistake, but also his wife was giving up, was tired of struggling and watching Chris' dreams fail which meant more work for her. It's a good point on the "why Mom left" conversation, but I read that as what could Chris say to a five year old? we've already seen that Gardener isn't patronizing with his son, he's not gonna say, "mommy went away for a while". And can he really say, "Mom left because of me, because the machines caused us so much trouble"? That would just make Chris Jr. build up resentment and hate towards his father, and from one point of view, Chris is right, Linda couldn't deal so she gave up and abandoned her family--sort of an ObiWan Kenobi fib to spare someone not ready for the truth.

    Sorry, I did read it as Superman with a capital S.

    as for whether or not Chris should have gone to college... He was in Navy rather than go to college. He's not shown to be a George Washington Carver level genius. And in the sixties kids that went to a rural Louisiana 50 person high school didn't go to college, white or black. The pathway just didn't exist except for the aforementioned most exceptional genius. he probably could have gone to college after serving, but it looks like he instead got married and had a kid, that makes it much more unlikely to get through or into college. And again, mid seventies much tougher, very unrealistic proposition for ex military or minorities with Chris' age and education background. The military WAS the smart choice for a guy like Chris it got him out and away from his small town in Louisiana, it opened up the possibilities for later. And college wasn't the end all be all then that it has become now. You could still get excellent jobs with no college education. The cost/benefit ratio of going to college today is weighted heavily infavor of college, less so in twenty five years ago.

    and I disagree that the movie is trying to say something about race relations in the early eighties. The movie avoids making statements, that would undermine the film. It'd be a lot less effective a film if it were more schlockly if it was nothing more than just some social issue movie, like overcoming racism or poverty. Part of what elevates the movie is its refusal to sink to the level of a Remember the Titans approach to social issues (like overcoming racism). even with the examples you cited, I think you're reading something that's not there.

    Adam
     
  12. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    But it did tackle them in the best way possible: Chris ignored what some would say HAD to be racism ("the "victim" is black; the perpetrators are white - case closed"); refused to be a victim, and kept trying to improve his lot in life - all the while caring for his son and setting an example of what a father is, even against great economic hardship.

    He never lost his cool during the internship, even if he was being "picked on" (we have no way of knowing whether that was the case or not, but Chris chose not to take it that way). Refreshing, that he didn't resort to a legal/political copout for why he couldn't succeed in the internship - and instead succeeded.
     
  13. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    I may very well be reading something that's not there, but it was something I definately noticed. It may very well have been the way it all happened (inspired by a true story)...it's just another strike against what could have been a good movie.
     
  14. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    You left out he's also stubborn, which in my experience often trumps intelligence in a lot of people.

    A rubicks cube isn't very complex, there's only about a dozen patterns you need to be able to recognize to solve it.

    This was just after the rubicks cube came out and few people recognized the basic thing Chris got right away, the center pieces never change and tell you what side the face is supposed to be. Once you do that you can find the cross on a side of your choosing, fill in the corners and move on to the two patterns you need to fill in the second layer. you need quite a few patterns to figure out the last layer and that's where a lot of people mix up a half solved cube, I still mess them up some of the time when I solve one. [​IMG]
     
  15. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    I especially appreciated the political/philosophical point made in the move: Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers were pretty damn smart to put in the constitution "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" - they didn't guarantee happiness, of course - just that everyone should have the right to pursue it. I thought that message was particularly strong, given the context of what Chris Gardner was dealing with, personally and professionally.

    Does anyone know the "rest of the story" - how did his son turn out? Did Gardner remarry? The closing of the film only tells us what happened for him professionally.
     
  16. Chris Atkins

    Chris Atkins Producer

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    Ironically, that part of the theme seems to be a big sticking point for a lot of viewers. Me, I was rooting for him to make it, even though I know not everyone can/does make it in his situation.

    But it is the dream of making it that propels us along in America, and it is that dream that this movie celebrates...and celebrates well.
     
  17. JediFonger

    JediFonger Producer

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    saw this today with a friend on a whim (didn't know children of men gets wide release NEXT friday).

    well, after the film finally finished, i felt cheated. why? i felt i had already seen the movie via the trailer. there wasn't anything MORE to smith's performance except the movie trailer. you could have watched the movie trailer and left away thinking, great 2minutes of performance and that's it. i, too, felt it drag (and i luv silent films that drag). the narrative is just to empty and full of 1-note approaches that it's appaling to even think the real life chris would approve (since he's such a smart chap). perhaps that's why he purposely missed the movie premiere to celebrate the holidays with his friends/coworkers and family in WI.
     

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