Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Pursuit of Sappyness

I received the new TV on the Radio album for my birthday this past week. I'll talk more about it in a future post. I also got a copy of the film Sherrybaby (thanks again, Pauline), which will also be discussed in a future post. For now, I will talk about a film that I saw last night.

The Pursuit of Happyness

This film had all the makings of a classic Hollywood tearjerker: 1) A big name actor showing a vulnerable side. 2) An "inspired by a true story" plot about a man prevailing despite hitting rock bottom. 3) Heart-wrenching dramatic scenes. 4) A cute kid to provide a little levity. Yet with all of that what do they do? Add a Will Smith voice over to really emphasize the point. The narration hurts the film more than anything; there was no need for it. Which leads to the main problem I had with the film: it underestimates the audience.

The audience knows what to expect from the film based on the trailers. Yet the film beats you over the head by explaining the significances of every major scene. For example, Chris Gardner (Smith) and son are alone by the water in a rare moment of joy. It is pretty obvious that they haven't had much to smile about, which makes the scene touching. Oh wait, here comes the voice over to explain that...they were alone and that it is a rare moment of joy. Or, how about the great scene towards the end; when Gardner is talking to his future bosses. Despite tears of joy coming down, Gardner fights to maintain the level of dignity he has shown throughout the film. It's a great scene to watch guessed it; the narration comes in to explain that he is now truly happy.

To me the saving grace in the film are the performances. Will Smith does a really good job in the film, as does his son Jayden and Thandie Newton (who gives a great underrated performance). It's just a shame that the film trust the actors to get the overall message across. If they every make a follow-up film, I hope it's called "The Pursuit of Subtly."

Merry Christmas


  1. Thandie Newton is da bomb in this movie. Yeah, she has an unlikeable character, but the actress does a great job in showing us her frustration and bitterness. Wow!!! xxOO to Thandie

  2. As you said, it was obvious where the movie was going, since it was based on a true story.

    I have to admit that more than once during the movie I felt that the character was not a very good father for placing his son in those situations while pursuing his dream. Yes, I know it really happened, and no, I don't have a suggestion for how he could have been a better father without quitting.


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