Weekly News via Email
   Set as homepage | Add to favorites | Customer Service | Subscribe Now | Place an Ad | Contact Us | Sitemap Sunday, 02.18.2018
News Archive
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
 1  2
 3  4  5  6  7  8  9
 10  11  12  13  14  15  16
 17  18  19  20  21  22  23
 24  25  26  27  28  29  30
Online Extras
Site Services
Around Bend
Outdoor Fun
Travel Info
Shop Local

Members Of

Poll: Today's Live Poll
Email to a friend | Print this | PDF version | Comments (0 posted) 
  Blogger |   del.icio.us |   digg |   newsvine

Dec 15,2006
The Screen Savor: ‘Running for the Gold’
by Kimberly Gadette


This is a film about a father who runs. He runs from a past, consisting of a fatherless childhood, a failing marriage and poor business choices. He runs toward a future, consisting of the cloudy hope of a successful new career, self-respect and possible "happyness." Above all, he runs with his child, the love of his life. And even when his son isn't physically with him, literally running with Dad, the father's run continues. But it's more than just a mere run -- it's an all-out pursuit.

Inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner's rise from rags to riches, Gardner states that the title came about when a daycare facility he was considering didn't pass muster because it misspelled "happiness" in its name. In the movie, Will Smith's Gardner utilizes the misspelled word scrawled on a wall as an opportunity to educate his five-year-old son on the definition and proper spelling. When his child points out another word on the wall, this one of the four-letter variety, Gardner stumbles as he tries to give an age-appropriate explanation. edAnd so it goes with this film: time and again, Director Muccino gives us moments of simplicity, never hitting us over the head with overblown sentimentality that, in lesser hands, could have turned this movie into weepy melodrama.

The story: In 1981, struggling salesman Chris Gardner invests his dreams and money in a bone density machine that turns out to be more bust than boon. Bumping into a clearly successful man on the street, Gardner asks him what he does. "Stockbroker," the man replies. Once Gardner discovers that he can apply for a Dean Witter stockbroker internship program without having a college degree, he hounds the program's administrator as only a good salesman can. It's not until Gardner is accepted that he realizes that the six-month internship program won't pay him a penny, and even if he makes it through, there's a high probability that he won't be offered a job. The film takes us through the six months of Gardner's struggle as an evicted single dad, studying in shelters by night, charming new investors by day, all the while hiding his desperate financial straits from Dean Witter.

The extreme juxtaposition of the wealthy with the homeless is woven into the fabric of this film. A sparkling new blue convertible crowded with laughing college kids cruises by a shelter crowded with people begging to get a bed for the night. Director Muccino gives us a lingering, long shot of a wealthy executive mounting the rose-bordered steps to his mansion, then jumpcuts to Gardner crammed into his temporary hovel. The painful irony of Gardner vying to manage people's bloated pension accounts, while having no roof over his own head, is more than just a little disturbing. It's the American dream running smack dab into the American nightmare.

Will Smith's performance, honest, subdued, mingling gentle humor with raw sorrow, is stunning. In reviewing his earlier films, it seems that only in "The Legend of Bagger Vance" does he touch on similarly low-keyed work. A scene in the subway in which the father has to hide his own fears in order to make his child feel safe by "playing pretend" is absolutely marvelous. As for child actor Jaden Smith, the filmmakers succeed in giving us a bright, but not overly precocious little boy, who is subject to fits of temper just like any confused five-year-old. Thandie Newton turns in an aching performance as the mother who realizes she has to leave home in order to find her "happyness." The sketch of a marriage that's already six feet under, far past any forced generic mumbles of "love you, hon" is bracingly honest.

Screenwriter Conrad ratchets up the tension time and time again, so that something as simple as Gardner getting to an appointment, or jotting down a phone number, is filled with unexpected conflict. Though the audience is pulling for the charming Gardner from the start, we sweat along with him so often that our emotional investment in him grows deeper with each scene.

A small cavil: we don't get to witness Gardner's charm as the stockbroker-in-training who's at the top of his class. When he makes his sales pitches, we hear the same drivel that we would get from any telemarketer. We need to love him and pull for him all the way. The few times when he turns into an everyday car salesman seem wrong.

For a subtly directed, beautifully written and superbly acted film that examines the inner demons racing right beside us as we pursue our individual American dreams:

Grading this movie on the curve of the Deschutes River:  A-

Kimberly Gadette can be reached at gadettek@yahoo.com.

Click here to see the movie trailer for "The Pursuit of Happyness".

Production Credits:  "The Pursuit of Happyness" 
Directed by:  Gabriele Muccino 
Screenplay by:  Steve Conrad 
Cast:  Will Smith, Jaden Smith, James Karen, Brian Howe, Thandie Newton 
Rated:  PG-13 
Running Time:  117 minutes 
Grade:  A- 

1958 times read

Related news
DVD Select: A grave new world in 'Children of Men' by Robert J. Hawkins posted on Mar 23,2007

Films in Focus – New and recent releases by David Elliott and others posted on Jan 12,2007

Pedestrian Hit, Seriously Injured on Third Street by Richard Burton posted on Aug 31,2006

Ex-Peregrine CEO pleads guilty in fraud case by Bruce V. Bigelow posted on Mar 16,2007

Films In Focus - New and recent releases by David Elliott and others posted on Jan 05,2007

Did you enjoy this article? Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00 (total 18 votes)

Market Information
Breaking News
Most Popular
Most Commented
Featured Columnist
Horoscope Guide
Aquarius Aquarius Libra Libra
Aries Aries Pisces Pisces
Cancer Cancer Sagittarius Sagittarius
Capricorn Capricorn Scorpio Scorpio
Gemini Gemini Taurus Taurus
Leo Leo Virgo Virgo
Local Attractions
Bend Visitors & Convention Bureau
Bend Visitors & Convention Bureau

Mt. Bachelor Resort
Mt. Bachelor Resort

Les Schwab Ampitheater
Les Schwab Ampitheater

Deschutes County Fairgrounds
Deschutes County

Tower Theatre
Tower Theatre

The High Desert Museum


Deschutes County

  Web    BendWeekly.com
© 2006 Bend Weekly News
A .Com Endeavors, Inc. Company.
All Rights Reserved. Terms under
which this service is provided to you.
Please read our Privacy Policy. Contact us.
Bend Weekly News & Event Guide Online
   Save the Net
External sites open in new window,
not endorsed by BendWeekly.com
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Add to Google Add to MSN Add to My AOL
What are RSS headlines?