Very, very fictionalized account of true Story
Jerrold Zayac | 03/26/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I hate to go against the wind here, but this movie was too tense, too extreme. This movie reminded me of the tribulations of Job in the Bible. The movie's portrayal Chris Gardner's pain and hardships never ended until the final 5 minutes of the movie.
Was this "really how it was", this extreme. So many questions: Questions like how did he afford to pay for the childcare expenses when he had no income, yet had to stay at a shelter? Did he really have to leave work early to pick up his child at daycare in an attempt to get to the shelter before it closed at five o'clock?
More obvious questions like: Why would he allow his child to go thru such foreseeable hardships when he is offered a reprieve from the boys mother. Let her take him for awhile, at least until he's established enough with an income and a place to live. No, instead, he just says, "you know you can't take care of him", so she leaves, no contact with the child for presumably at least 6 months.
One obstacle after another, ninety minutes of being abused, humiliated, degraded, all while caring for a five-year child. This was like water torture having to watch the pain one man is enduring. However, I couldn't help but think was his misfortunes time and time again overdone, way overdone. Did he really have his 5-year-old child with him while he had no income for six months and lived in various shelters? Was his income really completely dependent upon selling medical equipment that nobody wanted, and that two were taken from him, which he did recover after great misfortune. Were the horrendous misfortunes, one after another really true? If they were, how did he not go insane? Well, it turns out no. Most of it was made up-"Hollywoodized'. In real life, things were not as bad as portrayed in the movie, thank goodness. The greatest problem encountered by Will Smiths character in the movie was that he was not given a salary while training at Dean Witter. So his only source of income was selling his last few pieces of medical equipment. This was not enough to sustain him and his son in any stable housing, which lead him to seek out various shelters. Well, after doing a little research about the real Chris Gardner, it appears most of what was portrayed in the movie is not true; it's a greatly fictionalized account. He was given a stipend at Dean Witter of $1000 a month while training, and most important he didn't' have his child with him while he was training with them, so all the rushing to shelters before five o'clock with his son didn't happen. So many examples of the truth being stretched to make a more compelling drama, but for me, it was way overboard. Mr. Gardner's true-life story is a very compelling one. I have not read his book, only synopsis of it. However one thing about his true life is apparent, he was not a Saint, yet the movie goes out of its way to almost portray him as one. He is not a bad man either. He is just a man, a man who had many hardships and disadvantages in his life, all of which he did overcome and become a great success. As stated however, the movie seems to want to go out of it's way to show a Saintly genius, one with the ability to overcoming one tragedy after another, endure more one pain, one more humiliation, one more unbelievable mishap after another, all the way to the last five minutes of the movie. Then, only in the last one-minute of the movie, right before the ending credits do we read a few lines that now he is a millionaire. Everything's ok. I would have been more pleased with the real life story of Mr. Gardner's life, not the emotional rollercoaster we were deliberately put through for ninety minutes. I'm sure it's a great success story, and I'll be happy to watch the real story if it ever comes out.
As a side note, Will Smith's portrayal was excellent; his real life son did a great job in his film debut. Every actor was good; all the sets were excellent, just that little thing about the story went too far.