Pursuit Of Happyness

It was beautiful outside Saturday. Another mild and sunny December day and another day closer to spring. We decided to go to the movies.

Actually, it’s not as simple as that. I proposed dinner and a movie, which would have worked, except Helaine remembered the Cowboys-Falcons game was on tonight.

Please – hold your jealousy. I did win the marriage lottery.

We caught a 4:25 showing of Pursuit of Happyness, the new Will Smith film. Actually, 4:25 was the announced time. The movie started 15 minutes later – no exaggeration!

Enough with the commercials. Haven’t I already paid to see the movie?

By now you probably know, but “Happyness” is spelled as it is because of an inscription on a wall seen in the movie. But the actual concept, “pursuit of happiness” (as in life, liberty and the pursuit of…) is what drives the movie’s lead character, played by Will Smith.

He philosophizes about Jefferson’s reasons for framing happiness in this way in a series of disembodied voice overs.

Smith plays San Franciscan Chris Gardner – a man smarter and more motivated than his position in life would indicate. The movie chronicles Gardner’s struggle to succeed while maintaining a centered life for his son.

It’s ‘based’ on a true story. That’s another way of saying it isn’t a true story. Hollywood takes many liberties between reality and celluloid. Many of the crises faced by Smith’s character were one or two notches too tough to ring true.

Helaine cried through much of the final moments. I cried a little at the very end. As the movie ended, applause nearly broke out. It ended up being a unrequited smattering.

Helaine was definitely more satisfied with what was on the screen than I was. It was just too depressing for too long.

Sure, I knew a Will Smith Christmas release was going to end happy. It just took too long to get there.

Other than Will Smith, who did a fine job, three performances need mentioning.

Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Smith’s 8 year son, plays his son on screen. There were lines to be delivered and emotions to be portrayed. That’s tough for most 8 year olds. In his case, the performance was effortless and believable. I have no problem with this ‘vanity casting.’

Dan Castellaneta was one of Smith’s bosses. There was nothing to make him stand out, except… Hello… this is Homer Simpson! Castellaneta is the guy who made “d’oh” a household word.

Why bother with a little, inconsequential, part like this?

Finally, James Karen played Smith’s big boss at the brokerage firm. Fine actor. Good portrayal. You’ve seen him a thousand times in films and TV, even if you don’t know the name.

But, isn’t this the guy who was the Pathmark man for a few decades&#185? I tried to put that aside.

Score this movie a big hit for Helaine and OK, but too slow and depressing for me. It was nice to see Will Smith in a serious role. That wasn’t enough.

&#185 – It is.