Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Pursuit of Will Smyth

I don’t know anyone who saw the movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith. No one ever recommended it to me but I have always been a big fan of the Fresh Prince and I have seen virtually all of his movies so of course, I had to see this one. All I can say is, “Will, my man, you were robbed.”

He deserved the Oscar this year for this performance, no question about that. This was his best role and his best acting to date and I think much of that had to do with the director, whom he trusted to guide him over the course of the shoot. It’s tough to be an actor in a movie, tougher still to be in every single scene, but it’s next to impossible to keep everything straight in your head. Because scenes are shot out of sequence and at a very fast pace, an actor needs to trust the director is telling him where he needs to be emotionally in each scene so that when it’s all edited together, his performance isn’t all over the place.

That could easily have happened in a movie like this, one that is very emotional, very heartfelt. It could have become maudlin or depressing instead of inspirational. And much of that has to do with Will Smith and his director Gabriele Muccino. Muccino kept Smith from becoming “superstar Will Smith” and helped him achieve “actor Will Smith.” And he was brilliant. The scenes with his real-life son Jaden felt so accurate and were not merely the typical “we’ll stick together always, son, and things will get better just because we love each other” mantra that Hollywood movies usually promote. The frustration Gardner felt and the tension between himself and his son were very real and fully relatable.

As for charges from people that the movie fabricated much of Gardner’s life, I say, who cares? Take this for what it was: a great movie with a great performance from Will Smith. If you want complete accuracy, watch a documentary.

Championing the overlooked--
Your Hollywood connection,