The Pursuit of Happyness is inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, who wrote a biography of the same name, from which the movie is based. Will Smith plays Gardner who is a salesman of medical equipment, who actually only manages to sell the odd unit. Because of his poor sales, his family is struggling making it from bill to bill, until finally his wife becomes so fed up she packs up and leaves for New York. Gardner is now left by his request, with his five-year-old son Christopher. With the untimely loss…of their apartment, Chris has to make a hard decision; pursue the career path of a stock broker which requires six months training with no pay and no employment guarantee, or continue the life as a salesman in hope of earning enough to put food on the table. After a short time of deliberation Chris chooses to go after the internship, but endures some real hardships along the way including going hungry and homelessness.
This film is really inspirational, it proves that no matter where you’re from and no matter the circumstances that you face if you want something you can have it. The acting was impressive by Will Smith, but I was more impressed with the ability of young Jaden Smith who will obliviously be following in his father’s footsteps. Aside from the great cast and intense realism of the life on the streets this movie provides a good plot, and sends out a good message. This movie ultimately has a positive vibe to it and it beings such a touching story I have a hard time saying this, but it wasn’t awfully engaging. I felt for the characters, but the story dragged on a bit and didn’t always keep me interested, it’s the sort of movie that is going to be hit and miss. Some people will love it and call it inspirational, will others will simply shrug and say it was like any other underdog movie. For me personally I thought it was better than I anticipated, but wasn’t a perfect movie, but definitely worth checking out.
The Pursuit of Happyness is presented in both 2.35:1 widescreen and 1.33:1 full screen (used in this review). First things first, the films source is in perfect condition as one would might expect, no blemishing or artifacts here. There are a few dark scenes in the movie, luckily the source held up here with minimal grain, never really noticeable or distracting. Details are sharp; everything from up close facial to scenery shots of San Francisco look surprisingly good. Colors are just as impressive showcasing both vibrant and realistic looking pallets. Sony has done a commendable job on this transfer, one that will surely please anyone who watches it.
Included on the disc is an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The film is purely dialogue driven but thankfully sounds good from start to finish. The audio is crisp and clear, never sounding flat, partly to do with the impressive use of other channels. All speakers are used subtlety but frequently throughout the movie, giving the track a much fuller sound to it. It is these subtle effects that propel the track from falling flat instead making it an enjoyable listen.
The Pursuit of Happyness contains a good amount of features, which for the most part are actually worth checking out.
- Audio Commentary– Commentary by the Italian director Gabriele Muccino, who provides insight on transferring this true to life tale of hardships onto the big screen.
- Making Pursuit: An Italian Take On The American Dream – A look into the making of the film as envisioned by director Gabriele Muccino.
- Father and Son: On Screen and Off– Explores the on and off screen relationship of father and son; Will Smith and Jaden Smith.
- The Man Behind The Movie: A Conversation With Chris Gardner– A conversation with the real life hero, Chris Gardner. He talks about his real life experiences and the things he had to overcome to become who he is now.
- Inside The Rubik’s Cube– A look into the complicated puzzle known as the Rubik’s Cube, Will Smith was actually trained to complete it in less than two minutes.
- “I Can” Song – A song titled “I Can”
Undoubtedly Will Smith deserved his nomination at this years Academy Awards for his portrayal as Chris Gardner, but something is lost in it for me when I see a hotshot millionaire who drives an Escalade playing a homeless man. Not bashing his acting, because it was in fact great but I just can’t buy into it after I’ve seen his house on TV and his cars. But aside from that, for me this movie was pretty solid; it provided a dramatic and uplifting experience. The special features were impressive, and provided a good look at some of the aspects of the real character in contrast to Smith’s portrayal. In addition to the good special features, the audio and video were solid as well, making The Pursuit of Happyness a must have for fans of the movie.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making Pursuit: An Italian Take On The American Dream
- Father and Son: On Screen and Off
- The Man Behind The Movie: A Conversation With Chris Gardner
- Inside The Rubik’s Cube
- “I Can” Song