Pursuit of Happyness, The
PG-13
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +3

Cast: Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith. Drama. Written by Steve Conrad. Directed by Gabriele Muccino.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a single father of a five-year-old son (Jaden Smith), suddenly finding himself evicted from his apartment and unable to land a well-paying job. Forced to live in shelters, enduring many hardships, Chris refuses to let this dampen his spirits as he pursues his dream of security for himself and his son.

PREVIEW REVIEW: This is a good movie. And if it werent for a shoe, it would be a great movie. The story and Will Smiths performance are revealing, some might say downright profound. For it reveals that even when faced with insurmountable odds, a man can climb out of lifes traps and even rearrange his destiny. The movie, like last years Hustle and Flow, made me more sensitive to those faced with despair. But about that shoe...

Will Smiths character faces more pitfalls than The Perils of Pauline. Indeed, the only ordeal he doesnt go through is being tied to railroad tracks. It starts off with a major business mistake he invests in products to sell that nobody wants then he comes home to a wife who has had enough and has decided to move out, leaving husband and child behind. He then keeps losing his products by making stupid decisions. Then theres his problem with the IRS. Oh, and his car is impounded and hes arrested for possessing too many parking tickets. Then hes evicted, not once, but twice. And on it goes. Most of these trying experiences are necessary to portray a man overcoming moments of crisis. And through these problems we see the main characters steadfast love for his son and his determination to fight lifes fiascos. But, my goodness, everything happens to this guy but leprosy. When hes running after a thief, hes hit by a car. Hes uninjured, but cant find the shoe that was dislodged by the encounter. With all this tribulation, I found myself far tenser than a film should be allowed to make me.

The Pursuit of Happyness is gut wrenching, for sure, but it will touch you as it reminds just how undeterminable life is and what opportunities are still available to those who dont give up. Theres also a muted spiritual message that seems to signal a change in this mans life. At one point, the boy and his frustrated dad are forced to stay at a homeless shelter sponsored by a church. The lead is not seen praying, but at a worship service we do see him worship. Soon after this spiritual moment, life begins to change for our hero.

I think its a well-made film, an important film, a good film. But it would have been a great film without the missing shoe.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: At one point the little boy reads a dirty word written just outside his day school. But his dad wisely explains the word and why he shouldnt use it.
Obscene Language: One use of the f-word, one of the s-word and several minor expletives (damns and hells).
Profanity: I caught no misuse of Gods name.
Violence: The lead is hit in an auto accident, but not seriously injured.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 117 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature Teens and Adults

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