Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

This movie makes you feel like absolute crap.

I'm not saying it's bad. The acting was good, and the plot was based on a true story, which is why it's such a potent film. But watching someone go through terrible hardships and incredibly difficult situations while trying to keep his family together makes you shake your head in disgust for complaining about how tough you had it in class this week.

I remember talking to someone who saw this right when it came out, which was Christmas of 2006. She, too, thought that it was quasi-depressing; especially so during the holiday season. I wonder if this was an appropriate time to release such a downer-movie, but I guess the producers decided that the Christmas Break time slot was too appealing to pass up. You can't really knock them too hard for trying to make a living. And I suppose the film DOES have an overall inspiring message, but it just takes the whole movie to get to it. If you know anything about Hollywood movies like this (and you ALL do), then you'll already know what happens in the end. Seriously, they wouldn't tell the story if it ended up any other way.

For me, the most stand-out aspect of this movie was the incorrect spelling of the title. I'm a fan of correct grammar, and it always bothered me when I saw the trailers for The Pursuit of Happyness spelled with that cursed "Y" in there. Thankfully, they actually explained the spelling in the first 5 or 10 minutes of the movie; otherwise, I think I would have just assumed they spelled it wrong by accident - a sure sign of incompetence.

Will Smith stars alongside his son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith (don't look at me...that's what it says in the credits) as the father/son tandem of Chris Gardner and Christopher Jr. Not surprisingly, Will turned in another top-notch performance which actually got him nominated for the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Forest Whitaker ended up winning it for The Last King of Scotland). I AM slightly surprised, however, by Jaden's performance. Granted, the kid is probably like 6 years old or something, but all I heard when this movie was in theaters was "Oh, you've GOT to see Pursuit of Happyness because Will Smith's son is SO GREAT in it!" I was expecting the next Haley Joel Osmont and ended up getting the black child version of James Franco - boring. I'm fairly positive that ANY kid who can speak English could have played that role just as well. Yeah, it's Will's son: but who cares? It felt like the only reason they cast Jaden was so that 20 years from now the Smith family can look back at this movie propped up next to their photo album and say "Awww...remember that? Wasn't that cute?" Bite me. The gimmick didn't work. Nice try though.

One of the cooler aspects of this movie was the Rubik's Cube scene shown in the trailer. Will uses his gumption to solve one in order to get a shot at a "competitive internship at Dean Witter" that's supposed to turn his life around. All this did was make me want to go out and buy a Rubik's Cube. I will solve that thing if it's the last thing I do...

Sigh. All right ladies. Yes, the movie was "cute." Yes, the kid was "cute." Yes, you might cry. And yes, Will Smith is rockin' a mustache. But on the whole, the movie was pretty average. The depressing quality that lasted for (nearly) the entire thing was too much and it ruined it for me. It served only to make me feel bad for having the luxuries that I'm blessed with in life. Plus, as Boze observed, Will Smith didn't contribute to the soundtrack for TPOH. What's that all about, homeboy? I loved "Wild Wild West" (the music video, not the movie) and "Men in Black." "Nod Ya Head (Black Suit's Comin')" was awful, and "Switch" wasn't great either, but not contributing at all? Where's your shout out to the industry that got you where you are, Fresh Prince? Where's the collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff? That man relies on you for work! Give him a job every once in a while.

If you're in the mood for a guilt trip with no rap song, then check out The Pursuit of Happyness as quickly as you can get it. If not, I'd say stay away from it. It really wasn't as spectacular as people proclaimed it to be when it first came out. Until next time...

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