Pursuit of Happyness
Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
Better than Average
Drama, Comedy, Biography
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
December 15, 2006 (wide)
Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer
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“Pursuit of Happyness” opens in San Francisco where Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) is living with his girlfriend Linda (Thandie Newton) and son Christopher (played by Will Smith’s real life son, Jaden). (The father-son bond is evident on screen.) Chris is trying to make a better life for his family by selling medical devices. Linda is worried about money, but Chris seems to be the eternal optimist. He wakes every morning and continues to pound the pavement even when faced with rejection after rejection.
Chris states that he met his father for the first time when he was 28 years old, and he wants to be a better father than that. He exhibits fierce determination throughout the film to protect and provide for his son. He is chosen for an internship as a stock broker at Dean Witter, but this 6 month position does not pay and Chris is on the brink of financial ruin. Chris takes the position and juggles the internship, medical sales job, and caring for his son. They end up evicted and sleeping in various places like the subway or a mission.
It was easy to identify with Chris in this movie. He is portrayed as a normal person who makes some good choices and some bad. But what really makes Chris a remarkable person is that he is able to find joy in some of these bad situations. He picks himself up, over and over, and continues on. Chris has a fight with his girlfriend, she says she is not happy anymore, and she leaves Chris and their son.
While this movie is rated PG-13, there is absolutely no sex in this movie, however, Chris is living with his girlfriend. In one scene, Linda and Chris are shown in the bathroom getting ready for work. Linda does not have on a shirt, and is wearing a modest bra. There is a non-sexual scene where the two of them are laying in bed together. In a few scenes, Christopher is shown in his underwear (which is quite typical for a 5 year old).
While I gave this movie a moderate rating for profanity, this rating may seem overly harsh. It is rare to watch a movie today where no one takes God’s name in vain. This was one of those rare movies. There are several vulgar words used (damn, hell, etc.) about a dozen times. Outside of Christopher’s day care is a mural with the word “happyness.” As Chris talks to his son about the spelling of the word, his son asks if the other word is spelled right (the F-word).
There are a few brief scenes of violence which are mild. In one scene, Chris and Linda fight, and their voices are raised, and Linda hits Chris. In another scene, Chris gets in a fight over a spot in line at the mission, and the two men push and shove each other. Chris is also hit by a car and thrown to the pavement. A few times, Chris speaks harshly to his son, and, in one scene, he grabs his son by the arm roughly and runs with him to the bus.
Chris is riding in a cab and does not have the money to pay the driver, so he jumps out while the cab is stopped at a stop sign and runs away. He often lies to keep others and his son from realizing how bad his situation really is.
On a positive note, Chris and his son stay at the Glide Mission and are shown sleeping, eating and attending a worship service there. During the service, songs are sung about Jesus Christ. In a cute conversation between Chris and Christopher, the son tells the dad a joke about a man waiting for God to save him during a flood.
Chris Gardner’s true story is an inspiration. He selflessly worked to provide for his son and tried to stay positive through it all. We as Christians are called to find joy in all of life. While this movie never mentions that it is Satan who tries to steal our joy, and only true peace and happiness can be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ, it does manage to inspire viewers to remain positive throughout all of life’s situations.
In an interview in the Chicago Sun-Times, dated December 15, 2006, the real-life Chris Gardner is quoted as saying on the secret of success: “People ask me what’s my secret. I tell them, ‘Jesus loves me. He only likes you.’ I am his boy. I pray everyday, all day. So much I can’t get my work done. Now I realize I am working, just with Jesus on speed dial.”
I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone over the age of 13, and I would also recommend it to anyone who is unhappy in their current situation. Chris Gardner hit rock bottom and managed to turn his life around, and this should be an inspiration to us all.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
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