So, why was this such an easy film to review, and like? Because hell, I’ve been through situations very similar to this. Trying to get by, almost being thrown into the streets, being forced to watch parents suffer to ease their children’s. I’ve seen it all. And in the end of the film, it’s still a situation that’s happening to thousands all over the world. “The Pursuit of Happyness” is an admirable every man tale about the working man’s attempts not to make it big in the world, but in his attempts to just get by. Smith plays Chris Gardner with a lot of gusto offering up a truly solid performance.
Gardner is a very interesting character and his life is filled with constant failures that seem to turn up thanks to his relentless attempts to keep from letting his son down. He seeks constantly to keep his son at his side, and does almost anything to prevent the misery from projecting onto him. He makes homelessness into a game, starves himself, and loses sleep, all for the purposes of keeping his son Christopher from feeling the same pain. His aspirations aren’t beyond his grasp, and yet he’s knocked around throughout the better portion of his story. Are we still on the cliché that somehow finishing a Rubik’s cube can somehow identify an undiscovered genius?
“The Pursuit of Happyness” takes place during a time when the Rubik’s Cube was very popular, yet it also helps to provide an excuse to use the cliché quite prominently. “The Pursuit of Happyness” would be entertaining if it weren’t so blatantly sentimental and sappy. It resembles a typical Hallmark original film where plot devices come by at just the right time. As our character Chris is forced to write down an important number, to which he can’t find a pen, a friend comes along and begins muttering numbers which conveniently confuse him. His dream job features some of the nicest people you could ever meet.
And most of all, we’re never truly given a full impact of homelessness. The two always manage to find a place to be that’s never as dirty or gritty as we’d suspect. “The Pursuit of Happyness” many times borders on fairy tale territory in the vein of “In America,” in which our characters are always in the area of danger, but never in life threatening danger. Thus, any suspense or realism is lost in the sea of predictability and clichés. In the end, I’m pretty indifferent toward Smith’s dramatic effort. While Smith and son pull in strong performances, “The Pursuit of Happyness” is really just a glorified Hallmark movie of the week with a bigger cast. Sap, sentiment, and hokey plot devices bog down an otherwise down to earth story.