Years ago when a then Fresh Prince first hit the scene, he was already in a class all his own. Most of the people that knew of his Grammy win from his "Parents Just Don't Understand" days didn't realize that even before then he was making classic hip hop cds. As far as acting, few people gave him the credit he deserved for his breakout performance in "Six Degrees of Separation". Personally, that's when I knew that he was destined for greatness.
"The Pursuit of Happyness" is a biopic featuring Will Smith as Chris Gardner. Chris takes custody of his son during the most tumultuous time of his life and is determined to make make a better way for his family.
This is one of those films where you would find it hard to believe one person could overcome so much adversity had it not really happened. By the time he does succeed, I defy anyone to not feel genuinely appreciative for him after witnessing the hardship he had to go through. Smith does an excellent job in making the audience feel that emotional connection with the character.
The major piece in making "Happyness" work was the casting of Smith's real-life son, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, as Gardner's son. I was a little leery that he wouldn't fare so well in his first role and that it was another case of Hollywood nepotism. Fortunately, I was wrong. Jaden was phenomenal in every bit of screen time he was given. I'm sure it didn't hurt that he was playing opposite his real father so the chemistry was foolproof.
Gardner brings up a good point in the movie when referencing Thomas Jefferson's inclusion of "the pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration. He indicates that "pursuit" was put in there to indicate that happiness is possibly something that can never truly be attained which is why there's always a chase for it. I don't know about all that, but thanks to another outstanding performance, the pursuit of a great film this year has just ended.
My rating: A