A WALK TO REMEMBER
Starring: Shane West, Mandy Moore
Directed by: Adam Shankman
A prank gone wrong on a fellow high-schooler has the rebellious Landon Carter (Shane West) punished with mandatory after-school activities, where he has to interact with the quiet, bookish Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), a girl he had known since childhood but always ignored. Landon and Jamie spend time together while practicing for the school spring play, though Landon is initially reluctant to acknowledge her in front of his friends. They gradually fall in love, but they cannot be with each other for long.
I enjoyed this movie; it was quite sweet. Shane West is especially good as the rebellious Landon, and the growth in his character from a callous teenager into a caring guy was well-shown. The movie has a lot of sweet romantic moments; I especially loved the whole bit about Jamie's wishlist and how Landon helps fulfill it. I'm not much of a romantic, but this movie leaves you with a nice feeling. There are shades of Erich Segal's Love Story in the script, but the way the whole movie is treated makes a difference. Watch it this winter; you'll feel the warmth creeping up on you.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a salesman who invests his family's entire savings in a bone density scanner which is double the price of a regular X-ray machine, but only slightly more efficient. This costly investment causes great financial headache for him, and his wife also leaves him. Chris refuses to let her take his son Christopher (Jaden Smith), because he believes that he can care better for him than his wife can. Chris applies for an unpaid six-month internship at a stockbroker with a possibility of a stable job, but acute financial troubles, including tax problems and homelessness, mean that he is not on an even footing with the other candidates.
I loved this movie. It is such an inspiring tale that you cannot fail to be moved by it. Honestly, I was amazed at Chris' resilience. He faced every problem that you could possibly face, and his luck ran out at almost every turn, but he never gave up. He also never dumped his frustrations on his son; he always tries to stay positive in front of him. I almost cried at the scene where Chris and his son have nowhere to sleep and end up in a bathroom at a station, and Chris desperately tries to keep the truth of their sorry situation from his son. The movie is based on a true story, and I immensely admire the real Chris Gardner's strength. Watching this movie, you realize that all your problems pale into insignificance in front of the numerous challenges that Chris encounters, and you are struck by how he copes with them. Will Smith pitches in an inspired performance as the dauntless Chris Gardner, and I really think that this is one of the best roles of his life. Jaden Smith is very cute as Christopher, and he complements his dad (yes, he is Will Smith's real-life son) very well. Watch this movie; you cannot fail to be inspired.