The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
For some reason, I avoided watching this film until last weekend. I always wondered why. I suspect it was the basis of the storyline: a man and his five-year-old son trying to succeed in a world where they have no home of their own.
In 1981, San Francisco salesman Chris Gardner invests his entire life savings in portable bone-density scanners, which he demonstrates to doctors and pitches as a handy improvement over standard X-rays. The scanners play a vital role in Chris’s life. While he is able to sell most of them, the time lag between the sales and his growing financial demands enrage his already bitter and alienated wife, Linda, who works as a hotel maid. The economic instability increasingly erodes their marriage, despite caring for Christopher Jr., their soon-to-be five-year-old son.
While Gardner is trying to sell one of the scanners, he meets Jay Twistle, a lead manager and partner for Dean Witter Reynolds, and impresses him by solving a Rubik’s Cube during a taxi ride. After Jay leaves, Gardner lacks the money to pay the fare and chooses to run instead, causing the driver to angrily chase him into a BART station. Gardner boards a train but loses one of his scanners in the process. His new relationship with Jay earns him the chance to become an intern stockbroker. The day before the interview, Gardner grudgingly agrees to paint his apartment to postpone being evicted due to his difficulty in paying the rent. While painting, Gardner is greeted by two policemen at his doorstep, who take him to the station, stating he has to pay for the numerous parking tickets he has accumulated. As part of the sanction, Gardner is ordered to spend the night in jail instead, complicating his schedule for the interview the following day. Gardner arrives at Dean Witter’s office on time, albeit still in his shabby clothes. Despite his appearance, he impresses the interviewers and lands a six-month unpaid internship. He would be amongst 20 interns competing for a paid position as a stockbroker.
Gardner’s unpaid internship does not please Linda, who eventually leaves for New York, because she might get a job at her sister’s boyfriend’s new restaurant. After Gardner bluntly tells her that she is incapable of being a single parent, she agrees that Christopher will remain with Chris. Gardner is further set back when the IRS garnishes his bank account for unpaid income taxes, and he and Christopher are evicted. He ends up with less than $22, resulting in them being homeless, and they are forced at one point to stay in a restroom at a BART station. Other days, he and Christopher spend nights at a homeless shelter, in BART, or, if he manages to procure sufficient cash, at a hotel. Later, Gardner finds the bone scanner that he lost in the BART station earlier and, after repairing it, sells it to a physician, thus completing all sales of his scanners.
Disadvantaged by his limited work hours and knowing that maximizing his client contacts and profits is the only way to earn the broker position, Gardner develops several ways to make phone sales calls more efficiently, including reaching out to potential high-value customers and defying protocol. One sympathetic prospect, Walter Ribbon, a top-level pension fund manager, even takes Gardner and his son to a San Francisco 49ers game where he befriends some of Walter’s friends who are also potential clients. Regardless of his challenges, he never reveals his lowly circumstances to his colleagues, even going so far as to lend one of his bosses, Mr. Frohm, five dollars for cab fare, a sum he cannot afford. Gardner also studies for and aces the stockbroker license exam.
As he concludes his last day of internship, he is summoned to a meeting with the partners. Mr. Frohm notes he is wearing a new shirt, to which Gardner explains he thought it appropriate to dress for the occasion on his last day. Mr. Frohm smiles and says he should wear another one tomorrow, letting him know he has won the coveted full-time position and reimburses him for the previous cab ride. Fighting back tears, Gardner shakes hands with the partners, then rushes to his son’s daycare to embrace Christopher. They walk down the street, joking with each other (and are passed by the real Chris Gardner, in a business suit). The epilogue reveals that Gardner went on to form his own multimillion-dollar brokerage firm.Wikipedia
Meet Chris Gardner (February 9, 1954)
I guess it’s his winning smile and his gracious and grateful way of speaking. Will Smith captured the essence of the man in his portrayal of him. But what is he ‘really’ like? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Because his birth time is unknown, I have totally randomized it: that (accidental) Pluto conjunct his Leo Ascendant seems to answer my unspoken question. “Something” made him persevere when things got tough. Most people give up, but not Chris Gardner. It spurred him on to greater things. One inconjunct:
Sun Inconjunct Uranus
There is a side of your personality that is very restless and impatient with rules, even when you know they are for your own good. You want very much to go your own way and do your own thing, even when you aren’t entirely sure that it is the right direction for you. So you rebel in subtle ways by having sudden fits of obstinacy and moods of feeling very contrary, especially to your parents or other authority figures.
Sometimes the energy of this aspect comes out in other ways as well. At times sudden upsets may occur in your life that totally alter your plans, so that you have to change course entirely. When this happens, you must learn to yield to the pressure and flow with the change. It may be difficult for you to realize it, but such an upset occurs because you have blocked much-needed changes in your life, or they have been denied you. However upsetting these changes are at first, they will give you the freedom you need to grow as an individual. Unfortunately, if you always wait for changes to come in this manner, they are likely to be very startling and unsettling. If you learn to assert your individuality more directly, the changes will not seem so upsetting.
(This also answers the question…)
If you want the true story, read the book: