Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Pursuit of Happyness film v. The Pursuit of Happyness book

I saw a screening of The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith a couple of months before it was released in theaters. Since I'd just started at Amistad, I hadn't read The Pursuit of Happyness book yet, but I had a nagging suspicion that the book and movie weren't very similar at all, and they really aren't.

Here are some major differences:

1. The real Chris Gardner wasn't that old.
In the film I thought Will Smith looked thoroughly middle-aged. In reality, Chris Gardner was in his mid/late 20s.

2. The real Chris Gardner received a stipend during his internship.
Readers of the book will know that Chris Gardner received a small stipend while during his internship with the finance company. However, it was still not enough to cover day care costs and housing costs in ultra expensive San Francisco.

3. The real Chris Gardner was not married to his son's mother.
The movie doesn't really delve into this, while in the book Chris Gardner is honest about his imperfections.

4. The book covers the author's entire life more or less and the film only covers the year or so during Chris's homeless period.

I could go on and on, but then I wouldn't really be doing a good job of of promoting our books. So of course, (just one click away!) you can check out the book.

1 comment:

Black Artemis said...

Thank you for posting this! As a novelist and screenwriter, I was especially heartened by the fact that in the book Mr. Gardner was self-reflective about his contributions to the failure of his relationship with his son's mother. One thing that troubled me deeply about the film is the one-note depiction of the mother. IMHO, she falls into the stereotype of the emasculating Black woman who doesn't stand by her man and sees him as little more than an economic provider, hence, if he's not making $, he's less than a man to her regardless of the other ways he may be a good father and partner. I felt the filmmakers made a decision to demonize her to make Chris more heroic which wasn't really necessary. As real people, they both warranted complex portrayals, and I'm glad the book provides that. This is why it ALWAYS pays the read the book behind a movie. ALWAYS! Nine times out of ten, the book is richer.


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