Film: The Pursuit of Happyness

Chris carrying his son.
"It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?"
Christopher Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit Of Happyness is a 2006 biographical film based on the life of Chris Gardner, a self made millionaire played by Will Smith.

Gardner invests the family savings in a new type of bone density scanner which is more expensive but with clearer imaging. This investment ultimately causes troubles between himself and his wife, causing her to leave him with their young son, Christopher (played by Smith's real life son, Jaden). Gardner then gets a 6-month, unpaid internship at Dean Witter, a brokerage firm.

The 'unpaid' part makes life very difficult. It's not long before Gardner and his son are homeless, and have to rely on each other to have a chance at an actual job.

Because of his excellent work, he is offered a job as a broker.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: The entire film. All of Chris' pursuits are done with the main goal of giving his son a good life. That includes immersing him in a fantasy involving dinosaurs and caves when they're forced to sleep in a metro bathroom.
  • Alone in a Crowd: Chris after when he becomes an official broker.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song/Award Bait Song: Sowelu's "Shiawase no Chikara", the theme for the Japanese dub.
  • Arc Words: "This part of my life is called..."
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The opening scene with the "happyness" graffiti has the word "fuck" clearly seen spray-painted on the wall. This seems to have been done intentionally to avoid a PG rating.
    • It also leads to one of the few humorous moments in the film when, upon being told that the "happyness" spelling is incorrect, Chris' son immediately asks "Is 'fuck' spelled right?".
  • Biopic
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Deconstructed, Chris is shown to be quite smart and quite a hard worker, but he made a big mistake investing in a mediocre medical device that he had to store and sell himself. It didn't matter how hard he worked, he was stuck with thousands of dollars worth of equipment that he HAD to sell and couldn't, making it seem like he couldn't hold down a job. It wasn't until he sold off the last one he was able to lock down the internship and get a job as a broker.
  • Broken Aesop: Halfway through, Chris makes quite a good observation that you can only pursue happiness, and expecting to actually have it for more than a brief moment at a time is an illusion. The film ends with a Happy Ending implying everything will be alright from now on.
  • The Cameo: The real Chris Gardner is the man in a suit and tie who walks past Chris and Christopher in the film's final scene.
  • Compressed Adaptation: From Christopher Gardner's autobiography of the same name, which encompasses a larger swathe of his life.
  • Determinator: Chris.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: "Maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it" - but then again, maybe we can.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Something similar is done with a Captain America action figure.
  • Good Parent: Chris is an extremely devoted and loving father.
  • Heroes Act, Villains Hinder
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: Happyness is on a day-care mural.
  • Jerk Ass: Linda. Partly justified in that if Chris hadn't invested his life savings into the bone density scanners, things would have gone very differently. Still, after Linda threatens to leave and take Christopher with her the angry chewing out that Chris gives her is entirely deserved.
  • Missing Mom: Linda leaves for New York after deciding to leave.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: From some trailers, one might assume this is a comedy. It's not.
  • No Sympathy: Linda doesn't care much about what Chris does at the start of the film and offers no support.
  • Oscar Bait
  • Rags to Riches: Chris Gardner becomes a millionaire entrepreneur in Real Life.
  • Rubik's Cube International Genius Symbol: One of the first clues the audience (and Jay Twistle, a manager for Dean Witter Reynolds) get to the fact that Chris is a really intelligent guy is his ability to solve a Rubik's Cube. At least, it impresses Jay, who had previously thought such a feat impossible; this earns Chris his interview.
  • San Francisco
  • Self-Made Man: Christopher Gardner becomes this.
  • Taking the Kids: Christopher's wife, Linda, tries to do this, though eventually she agrees not to.
  • Train Escape
  • Truth in Television: In fact, the real Christopher Gardner is shown in the end in a suit and tie.
  • Unlocking the Talent: The whole point of the film.

Alternative Title(s):

The Pursuit Of Happyness