At its core it's a heartwarming true story about a father in San Francisco who is determined to make ends meet and become successful in the worst possible circumstances. He has a five-year-old son, his wife leaves him for work in New York, he sells portable bone-density scanners no one wants and soon enough he's homeless. And while without a salary, he's trying for an internship only one person out of a batch of would-be stockbrokers will get.
What's admirable about Chris Gardner is how he took it all on the chin. In the face of adversity, he left the bare minimum of time to mope, if he did at all. Then he moved on to what he thought was the next best course of action.
And he did all this without leaving his son's side. His son knew first-hand what kind of a man his old man was.
One of the film's initial scenes is a downcast Chris watching a horde of happy stockbrokers. "What makes them so damn happy?" he muses. At the very end, we see him raising his hands, crying in joy, merging with the same crowd after all the hardship he had gone through.
Quotes of the moment:
"Don't ever let someone tell you, you can't do something, not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they want to tell you you can't do it. You want something, you go get it. Period."
- Chris Gardner to his son, "The Pursuit of Happyness"
"You know what the problem with you is? You don't know when you've won."
- Jacob Fuller to Seth Gecko, "From Dusk Till Dawn"