Monday, March 17, 2008

The Pursuit of Happyness

This is a inspiring movie that gives you hope that no matter what the barriers, you can succeed if you choose to succeed.

The true story of Chris Gardner, who came from a small town, did some time in the Navy and as a hopeful husband and provider for his family became a salesman of mobile bone density machines which were incredibly hard to sell. The mid 1980s and the Rubik's Cube craze find him with a young son, a wife who appears constantly disappointed, the apartment drastically behind in rent, parking tickets galore and his car impounded.

A happy chap by nature, when walking past a large office block Chris sees a man park a flashy sports car and hop out to feed the meter. When he asks him what he does for a living, the man says he is a stock broker. Chris goes onto suggest you need a college degree for that, the man informs him, no, just a good head for numbers. Chris decides to see if he can get a job to become a stock broker too, but is very disappointed in his application for an internship that leaves his 'further education' as rather empty. He then manages to meet the head of recruiting for the internship repeatedly, finally making an impression on him by completing the supposedly unsolvable Rubik's Cube during a joint taxi ride across San Francisco.

He returns home late and finds his wife has left with their son and in the midst of this catastrophe gets a call from the head of recruitment to call a certain number to make an appointment for an interview. Unable to find a pen, he repeats the very lengthy number until he goes down the street and can write it down. He manages to retrieve his son, but is evicted due to non payment of his rent and gets a week's extension on the proviso that he paints the apartment. Mid-wall, covered in paint and wearing a pair of trousers, singlet and old jacket, he is visited by the police and taken to the station to pay his fines and is required to stay in overnight, only being let out half an hour prior to his interview. He runs all the way to the interview, begrimed and paint splattered and STILL manages to get one of the 20 internships available.

Disappointed to find that the internships require 6 months of work, without salary, after which only 1 will be selected and the skills are non- transferable to another company, no money in the bank, about to be evicted and with his son to raise, his resolve wavers. However he steels himself, does his sums to work out how they can live for the next six months and takes the job.

Then begins six months of turmoil and hard work. Dropping his son off to day care early, working at the brokerage firm without breaks, without drinking (so no toilet stops) to maximise his shorter working day, since he needs to leave early to collect his son. The weekends are consumed with trying to sell the remaining bone density scanners to doctors and the odd small highlight of entertainment or playing with his son. The bad luck doesn't cease with a tax bill wiping out his savings again, and being evicted again for getting behind in their rent, they are reduced to sleeping it rough and staying at a mission home until Chris can fix and sell the final scanner.

Luckily it ends well in success and happiness and leaves you full of admiration for the true grit the real Chris had in achieving his goals.

Brilliant acting by Will Smith as Chris, Jaden Smith (Will's son) plays the son Christopher, which must have added a realistic quality. Thandie Newton plays the dissatisfied wife, Linda. Brian Howe plays Jay Twistle, the head of recruitment and veteran actor James Karen plays the head of the interview panel (and previous internee) Martin Frohm.

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