Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Pursuit of Happyness

I saw the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, today. I was expecting just another feel-good holiday movie with lots of cliches and poor acting by Will Smith. But I was pleasantly surprised. I loved this movie. Will Smith was amazing. His real-life son was great, too.

Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a real person whose rags-to-riches story inspired the film. He loses everything but his son, and decides that he's going to land a job in a stock brokerage firm even though he's never had a college education or any experience in the field. I won't give away the story, but suffice it to say that the film really catches you up in the angst of what homeless people go through to survive. As I left the theatre, I found myself thanking God for sparing me the experience of poverty and unemployment. Will Smith plays the role with heart and soul. I believed him.

The movie reinforces the value of fatherhood. Also there is a good scene of worship in a church, showing what an important role the faith community has in dispensing mercy and help to the poor.

As a Christian moviegoer, one thing I always look for in a film is whether it succeeds or fails to tease out the search for significance, relationship, and/or transcendence that every human being engages in to some extent. In this particular movie, Will Smith is always running. Also, people are seen darting here and there throughout the movie, as if in a hurry to get somewhere or find something. Hence the title of the movie: The Pursuit of Happyness (purposely misspelled, by the way).

The human predicament is that we, like Chris Gardner, are in hot pursuit of things we believe will validate our existence. Trouble is, as St. Augustine observed in prayer, "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee."

Ultimately, success and even family will not satisfy. God, and God alone, is the end of the struggle for significance, meaning, and happiness. "Happy is the people whose God is the Lord," it says in Psalm 33:12. Even though we admire Chris Gardner's determination to succeed, the question remains: Is he running in the right direction? At one point in the movie, Gardner says something to the effect that happiness is something always pursued and never achieved. He's right, unless the pursuit is directed toward God.


orangejack said...

so you don't like will smith as an actor? i've always liked him. did you see him in ali? i thought he was very believable.

Mike said...

You are right, Ali was great. I guess I was thinking more of the comedies and sci-fi movies I've seen him in and was not high on him (e.g., Wild Wild West, Men in Black, etc.).