Pursuing happyness conveys capitalist reality

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In Pursuit of Happyness

Directed by Gabriele Muccino

Colombia Pictures, 2006, 117 min.

Movie review

I recently saw the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith, his real-life son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, and the actress Thandie Newton as Smith’s wife. It is an excellent movie and one I would recommend to all PWW readers.

The movie portrays a down-on-his-luck salesman (Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith), struggling to hold his family together in a present-day big city (San Francisco).

It shows real problems of real people, and the fact that the family in question is African American is very important. Too often Hollywood shows African Americans in a stereotypical fashion.

The love between father, wife and son are shown vividly. And the strengths of character shown in the film, in the presence of adversity, are truly amazing.

The one disagreement that this reviewer has with the film, and it is an important one, is with the ending. It shows our hero, favored by a combination of skill, luck and dogged determination to succeed despite all obstacles and “making it to the top”: a typical “rags-to-riches” story. Those who are familiar with the old Horatio Alger success stories will recognize the formula.

I keep thinking of the myriad of less-favored whites as well as African American families (a hint of that appears in the movie) who don’t “make it to the top” and are torn apart by the cruelties of the capitalist system.

Why should only the favored few “make it to the top” and the vast majority sink to the bottom, cast off by the ethic of the capitalist system? We must organize to bring about a change of system that will make the conclusion of this otherwise excellent movie seem somewhat outmoded.

Incidentally, the misspelling of the word “happyness” is purposeful and forms part of the plot.