The Pursuit of Happiness is inspired by a real story, the film follows Chris Gardner’s brief ups and terrifying downs, whose attempts to save his family from falling into despair develop into a socially Darwinian life-and-death battle. The Search of Happiness, written by Steven Conrad and directed by Gabriele Muccino, recounts how Chris, afflicted by some bad luck, a few dumb moves and a shrew for a wife, Linda (Thandie Newton), loses his apartment and joins the ranks of the homeless, if not the desperate, with his 5-year-old Christopher (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Mr Smith’s own beautiful son).
It’s the same old narrative, artfully told, skillfully marketed, about an American dream. The filming is flawless, unadorned, straightforward to the measured end, the stronger to serve the warm expressivity of Mr Smith. Like the walk-up apartment Chris’s family lives in at the beginning of the movie, which looks like the real paycheck-to-paycheck contract, the warmth feels genuine. As the daycare centre does, it can’t quite get satisfaction right, which is so crummy.
In “The Path of pleasure,” money matters as it does in general. But in this storey, it matters more freely than in most Hollywood stories that set their eyes on the needy, primarily because the pursuit of happiness by Chris inevitably becomes intertwined with his pursuit of wealth. He doesn’t just want a nicer, safer life for himself and his child; he seems to yearn for a life of luxury, stadium box seats and the type of sports car he pauses to admire in one scene, either by scripted design or by the example of the real Chris Gardner. Not only are his interests upwardly mobile; they are materialistically unbound. Instead of a nice starter house, he ogles mansions (and the filmmakers). No doubt why he is hoping to become a stockbroker.