Two of my sons and I went to see The Pursuit of Happyness at the Lake Theatre last weekend. They thought it was only OK, but I really liked this movie. Our different opinions brought to my attention a fundamental component of movie-going. Each movie-goer brings his own history, experiences and prejudices to every movie. The Pursuit of Happyness (the misspelling of happiness is purposeful) is about being a dad. My sons are not yet fathers, so their appreciation of this movie can’t be the same as mine.

The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, played by the always likeable Will Smith, who can still be seen as a young kid on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Great show. Chris is the prototype guy who just can’t seem to catch a break. Smart but poorly educated, he’s chasing the American Dream selling a portable X-ray device that is high-priced and redundant. Not surprisingly, sales are few, but he soldiers on. Eventually bad credit, overdue rent and IRS liens catch up to him. His wife leaves him. All he has left is his 6-year-old son, played by Jaden Smith who is Will Smith’s real son.

Like most 6-year-olds he loves his dad no matter what. Chris gets a break when he gets a slot with 20 other candidates for a non-paying internship at a big stockbrokerage firm in San Francisco. The winner of the six-week competition gets to be a stockbroker.

The movie details Chris’ efforts to juggle the internship, trying to sell the stupid X-ray machines and being the best father he can be. There are some rough times where Chris and his boy are homeless, sleeping in public restrooms and shelters, but you just hope Chris Gardner’s commitment to his son will eventually be rewarded.

Now I might say that a guy as winning as Chris Gardner should have been able to get some help from family or friends or maybe get a job selling something other than expensive, redundant X-ray machines. But this comes from the same guy who eventually couldn’t understand why the poor of New Orleans couldn’t take a Greyhound out as Katrina approached (They had no money, stupid!).

In other words, it’s hard for the middle class to appreciate the lives of the working poor. Child care, transportation and laundry seem so mundane and unimportant that we overlook how crushing daily existence can be if you have no or very little money. The scenes where Chris Gardner is washing his shirt by hand in the early morning, hustling to catch the bus to drop his boy off at daycare and then finally arriving at work, effectively show how hard and exhausting life can be for some of us.

I would like to have seen more scenes with Chris competing against the sons of privilege and kicking their entitled butts, but then I’m not the director of this movie. Too bad.

But these are just nitpickings on my part. The Pursuit of Happyness is a great story about how a father’s love can overcome most any adversity. If you can have Christmas in July, then you can have Father’s Day in January. Go see The Pursuit of Happyness-even if you’re not a dad.

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John Hubbuch

John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday...