The most intriguing part about the movie is when Chris Gardner talks to his son about dreams and I quote:
Don’t ever let somebody tell you, you can’t do something, not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you that you can’t do it.
We all have felt the need for someone to say these words to us at some point in our lives. Someone to pat us on the back and encourage us to follow our dreams no matter what.
We come across people in our lives that have a very pessimistic view of life and can discourage others as well. It is important to remember that if we can dream it then we can make it.
Dreams are powerful as they instill hope in us when things get tough and you shouldn’t ever give up on their dreams.
The premise of the movie:
Chris Gardner has always wanted to be the best dad to his kids, unlike his own father. He has financial struggles while he’s working as a salesman but it’s still difficult to manage his expenses from his salesman job. While he’s trying to make the most of it, his wife who is tired of his financial struggles decided to leave him for a job opportunity in New York.
He’s left with his son and his responsibility which he’s happy to do. An unfortunate event at work forced him out of his apartment with his son and they didn’t have anywhere to go. Chris had applied for an internship at a very prestigious brokerage firm, he’s persistent in his decision to land a job through this internship but the only problem is that the firm will only hire one of the twenty interns.
He’s not willing to give up in the face of despair as he has the dream of making it better for himself and his son through this job. The movie shows Chris’s struggle in the face of despair and how he didn’t give up on his dream for his son.
The Pursuit of Happyness – Official Trailer
Chris Gardner’s ideology:
The above-mentioned dialogue from the movie captures Chris Gardner’s resilience and ideology.
He was seen talking to his son about how he should never pay heed to others when they will discourage him from pursuing his dreams. He believes that no one should make you believe that you can’t achieve something you can dream and it is the very same ideology that he follows himself throughout the movie.
He’s “walking the talk” in the movie as he struggles with his choice of internship at a famous brokerage where everyone would tell him not to as it was unpaid with almost zero chance of a permanent job but it was his belief in his dream that made him pursue it nonetheless.
He went on with his intuition and worked hard for it and never let doubt or what others would have to say about it come in the way of his dream.
This was the gist of the movie and what it has at the center of it. I’m going to be giving you a detailed in-depth review on it for you to decide whether it’s message is worth your time or not.
I believe the message is truly amazing!
Meaning of Happiness:
The movie attempts to define “Happiness” which is a very subjective concept. It is near to impossible to define what happiness would mean for every single person on this planet but one can try to come up with a definition that would be agreed upon by the majority.
The movie tries to encapsulate happiness and what it means to be finding happiness through Chris’s journey and struggles. Someone might not be able to see happiness in his struggle but the movie walks you through his journey of finding his happiness.
It is important to note that it was about Chris and how he tries to give meaning to the word “happiness” for himself.
People often criticize how the movie associates his happiness with wealth and monetary things like big cars, nice houses, and the life of the rich and how he fancies such things but what one needs to understand that it’s the metric of his happiness.
People want what they don’t have and what they want to have in their life. For someone like Chris, an African American who is trying to paint his dream with the colors of reality in San Francisco. He belongs to a marginalized community and has seen financial and racial discrimination throughout his life and racial discrimination translates into social and economic disparities.
You can’t term his dream as “too capitalist” as it’s his dream and what he wants to have in his life and what he’s willing to put at stake for it.
It’s very important to note that it isn’t all about what he wants though. One of the major motivations portrayed in the movie is that he wants his son to have a better life as well.
The criticism is thus uncalled for when you look at it from his viewpoint and when you step into his shoes. We often don’t try to step into the other person’s shoes when it comes to understanding someone and their journey.
Happiness might mean something spiritual for someone, might mean family stability for some, peace of mind for others, and the list goes on.
The movie emphasizes the meaning of happiness and leaves it to you to put a face to it. Chris had to go through his struggles and financial difficulties to realize how his happiness was in his journey and what his journey made him into.
The journey you embark on has the power to shape you into the person you’re destined to be and it is the journey that matters. Everyone has to embark on this individual journey to find the meaning to their happiness and how they would define happiness.
The lead character:
The movie starts with Chris Gardner shown as a loving, caring, and supportive husband and father to his wife and their son. He does have financial problems but he’s shown optimist and courageous that the problems will resolve and they will come out of it.
He’s trying to be better than his father and it can be seen in the trailer where he mentions he doesn’t want to be like his after whom he got to meet when he was 28 years old. This speaks from where a person is coming from and what they have in their mind.
We often try to be what our parents weren’t and that’s is what Chris is aiming at. He has this image of his father in his mind that he doesn’t admire and he wants to be there for his kid from the start. He wants to be the best dad for his kid and that’s what he’s shown to be.
He is willing to go to any length and work as much as he can to provide the best possible life to his only son. His wife is tired of his financial problems and career instability and wants him to find better pay than the one he has.
He works as a salesman and sells medical devices and it is a struggle. In the movie, a customer once mocks his medical device by saying that it looks like a time machine. It shows how uncommon the machines were thus making them a less marketable product.
He didn’t make much money from it and his wife didn’t see any future for them together. She left him and their son for a job opportunity in a restaurant in New York and while she didn’t put her faith in him with his financial troubles but she had faith in him that he will look after their son. It is shown how the kid couldn’t get why his mother left his father and him and blamed himself for it.
It is a common psychological phenomenon where children hold themselves accountable if there’s something not working between their parents. It has been seen in our children belonging to dysfunctional households. It affects them mentally and can leave imprints of trauma on their young minds for a lifetime.
Chris has been shown to be very considerate of his child’s emotions in relation to his mother’s decision. There’s a very powerful scene where his son can be seen talking to him and blaming himself for it. Chris acknowledges his feelings while categorically telling him that his mother didn’t leave because of him. It has nothing to do with him and he shouldn’t ever blame himself for it.
It is a very subtle but important message that how important it is for parents to address their children’s feelings and assure them that they shouldn’t torture themselves for what someone else chose to do. Children need these affirmations from their parents and it will leave a lasting impact on them. This child would know that someone’s actions don’t reflect on him even if it was his own mother.
We don’t realize the importance of this message but it can save someone the trauma of a lifetime.
Moment of weakness:
After his wife left him with his son, he started to juggle his salesman work with taking care of his son single-handedly. He knew in his mind that he can’t give his son a good life with this work and he starts looking for other employment opportunities.
While he’s trying to do his best, an unfortunate incident happens at work where someone stole his medical devices which he was supposed to sell, and ran away with them. He tried chasing them down but to no avail and it ended up costing him money.
The monthly rent of his apartment was due and he couldn’t pay the rent in time for the past three months and the owner kicked them out from his apartment. Chris and his son didn’t have a place to go and became homeless.
They started living in the train station washroom and that’s when you can see a strong man having a moment of weakness. It is a great scene where he broke down with tears while his son was sleeping as it delivers a very significant message to the viewers and breaks the patriarchal idea of a strong man.
We have often heard people telling others that strong people don’t show their weaknesses to others, particularly men. It is, therefore, necessary to let the viewers see him crying and normalizing a man crying when he couldn’t keep it inside anymore.
People who can exhibit their emotions and what they are going through should be idolized and the fact that they had the courage to be confident in their own skin. It is a sign of strength if someone can express their moment of weakness and not otherwise. We glorify men who don’t cry in the face of despair and conceal their emotions which is a very patriarchal and conservative idea of strong men.
Why should one suffer in silence and what for?
Just to adhere to some societal gender roles and the patriarchal norms of the society.
More directors and movie writers should normalize this and make it a normal human experience irrespective of gender and absurd definitions. It is directly related to the phenomenon that men are more prone to committing suicide than women.
The reason for this is the societal pressure of not letting anyone know what you are going through if you are a man because the patriarchal view of strong men wouldn’t allow you to. It is a negative connotation that patriarchy only affects women and their role in society but it affects men too.
The definition of strongmen has engulfed many dreams and many vibrant lives. People commit suicide when they are on the edge and can’t suffer any longer and that is why it gets excessively necessary to give this message through the medium of movies and characters.
People should be able to find these characters relatable and learn something from them.
The dream Internship at the brokerage firm:
Life struggles and being from an impoverished background didn’t stop him from dreaming big.
One of those mundane days, after dropping his kid at the daycare center and trying to sell the medical machines, he came across someone who worked at a prestigious brokerage firm.
Chris asked him how he does what he does and how it has made him so rich and he told him about the firm. He went inside the firm and came to know about the internship program. The internship was highly competitive and unpaid.
He had to provide for his son while working towards his dream life. He applied for the internship knowing he would have to work more than the other interns as he had to earn for his position and for a living. The firm will hire only one intern when the six months duration towards the end of the internship period depending on the performance of the interns.
All of these difficulties didn’t stop him from trying his luck and he applied for the internship.
He started working as an intern at the firm while working at the other job to earn some money.
He had to look for shelter homes for the homeless to spend the night with his son and used to drop him at the daycare in the morning. Someone in his place might have settled for something less and wouldn’t have tried for something which didn’t promise a future but he had faith in his dream and the hope to secure it one day.
He was good with numbers and had the skills to outperform everyone else. He won many contracts for the brokerage firm during the internship period that made him earn the trust of many.
He didn’t shy away from working hard for his dream position and the story will show how it ended up for him.
Life will get tough:
Life doesn’t treat us all in the same manner.
Some might have to struggle through it at a young age and some might have to face hardships during the middle. It doesn’t inform us of the plan in advance and we just have to tread the unknown path knowing that not everything is in our control.
You can stress over things as much as you want but it won’t affect the timing of things. You can work hard and leave it all on the timing then.
Chris went through everything one can possibly think of and still managed to grind through it. His wife left him, he had to take care of his son alone, juggle an internship with a salesman job, lost his home and had to spend a night at the subway station restroom, lives in a motel and homeless shelters.
Life humiliated him countless times but he didn’t give up on it and kept his patience and perseverance through this difficult time. He was rewarded with success but it all came at a price proving there are no free lunches in this world.
Period of uncertainty:
Everyone has to deal with a period of uncertainty and that’s what happened with Chris.
After putting all the hard work into the internship, he was still not certain of the results.
He had finished his internship and sold all of the medical machines and had to wait for the results. He was hopeful but he didn’t let his hopes get too high because you can only do what’s in your hands.
He worked hard for it and tried everything in his capacity to make it happen and left everything on the line. Since it was almost the end of his internship days and he was uncertain of the future, he decided to take a well-deserved break. He went to the beach and let himself enjoy it for a while because why not.
He booked a hotel and spent the night there and gave himself the time to think and enjoy himself.
He sold all the medical machines, he didn’t have much on his hands because all his money went into taxes.
He took the final exam of the internship to the best of his knowledge and hard work and had to wait for the results. The wait wasn’t easy as he had nothing to lose and everything depended on that position in the firm.
Towards the end, he was called for the interview and one can see how he was eager to go in for the interview despite the fact that he didn’t have the formal interview clothes and that he was rushing towards the office to make it in time. The scene will surely give you goosebumps as he’s running to make it and when he reaches the office and the interview with the managers starts that’s when it really hits you.
All his struggles came down to that very moment and the dialogue that will stay with you for the rest of life. It is when one of the managers asks him: “Chris, was it easy?” and he replies, “No, sir, it wasn’t”.
This wasn’t the answer of someone who was showing himself to be the victim of the circumstances but someone who knows what he has to endure to be standing where he was. It was someone who wasn’t shying away from his struggles but has acknowledged and embraced them.
It is important to take pride in your struggles because that is a part of you and defines you.ThinkPositiveCheck.com / Jon Peterson
He has attained his dream despite what the world would have said to him and proved his words that “If you have a dream then you gotta protect it” and he did the same in his case.
He kept the dream alive within him and took a leap of faith and it became his reality.
A bit unrealistic:
Some viewers of the movie might term the ending a bit unrealistic.
It can also be criticized for its narrow generalization that Chris was one exception and it can’t be generalized and it would be true for the majority of people.
The film is based on a real story and the adaptation into a movie comes with some changes to the real story but it shouldn’t take away from the fact that it did happen for someone in real life.
It seems larger than life and unrealistic but isn’t that what we all live for? A grain of hope that someone somewhere realized his dreams and worked for them.
The world is full of disappointments and failures and we all experience our fair share of hardships and failures but the hope is one thing that keeps our spirits high. It is okay to share stories of exceptions if we can tell other stories to keep a balance.
We all carry dreams with us but not all of us put our heart and soul into it.
We aren’t taught to believe in our dreams against all odds, against what others have to offer about them, against our social and economic standings in society.
Chris came from a marginalized community and didn’t have much on his plate when he dreamt of a far better life for his son and himself. What makes him special is his resilience and his faith in his dream and is something that differentiates him from the majority of us.
We seek validation for our dreams from our parents, friends, and family, and in that, somewhere trying to fit in, we lose our dreams.
We stop dreaming and remind ourselves of how immature we are to think of such things.
We separate them from reality and mark them unrealistic while we go about our daily lives.
We never look inwards and try to look for peace in the outer world.
Society has a role to play in crushing our dreams by having us conform to the set norms and patterns of society and if someone thinks of something different than the set rules then label them as “rebellious” and “rules breaker”. All these words come with a negative connotation and force people to conform to the set patterns and norms.
Why would you dare associate yourself with something negative?
The fear of letting your family and friends down weigh heavy on our shoulders and demands sacrifices.
One should ask oneself why do we have to sacrifice our dreams to get accepted in society?
Why does acceptance come at such a cost?
Why suffer from depression and anxiety of unfulfilled dreams when you should be encouraged to achieve them in an ideal world but why don’t we have this ideal world even today?
All of this needs an answer and these questions should be addressed before someone has to give up on his dreams just to save the expectations of some people based on societal acceptance and norms.
I hope this helps you in defining your meaning of happiness and how important it is for you to find what truly means happiness to you.