The Pursuit of Happyness is based on a true story about a family trying to make a success of their lives. Chris Gardner (Will Smith) and Linda (Thandie Newton) are parents of a little boy also named Christopher (Jaden Smith). The couple have spent their life savings buying into a company that manufactures medical scanning devices. Chris is responsible for sales but has great difficulty selling the product. The family is behind on rent and have little money. Linda has to work extra shifts just to make ends meet. This is causing more and more stress in their relationship.
One day while racing from one sales appointment to another, Chris sees a man step out of a red Ferrari. He talks to the man, a stockbroker, and learns that his line of work does not need a college degree and that a good aptitude at maths and interpersonal skills are helpful. Chris decides if this is all that is needed then he can do it too. After all, he thinks, all stockbrokers seem to look so happy.
Chris decides to study to be a stockbroker but Linda leaves, so he is suddenly a single parent. Through great determination, he manages to get an internship while balancing no income and homelessness. he must also look after his small child, study and try to reach his ultimate goal.
Family breakdown; poverty and homelessness
There is no physical violence of concern in this movie. There are angry confrontations between various members of the family.
Content that may disturb children
There are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children of this age. For example:
- Christopher’s mother Linda leaves him to move to New York.
- Chris cries when he and his son have nowhere to sleep.
- Chris is hit by a car when running across the street.
Some children in this age group might also be disturbed by the scenes described above.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
There are references to the following products: Coppertone sun cream, Toyota, Pacific Southwest Airlines.
There is some mild to medium-level coarse language in this movie.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The main message of this movie is that if you believe you can do something and have a goal, stick to it and follow it through. The movie also presents the following values:
- the importance of doing your best
- family support
- valuing your own talents
- the importance of good role modelling by parents.
You could talk about these values with your child as well as another important issue raised: the real-life consequences of resorting to illegal behaviour and lying in order to survive.