Movie ~ Topic 3 ~ The Pursuit of Happyness ~ Trailer ~

Director: Gabriele Muccino ~ Main Actors: Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith


Plot Overview ~ Adapted from Wikipedia ~ Genre: Biographical drama


Read the text and discuss the follow-up questions:


In 1981, San Francisco salesman Chris Gardner (Will Smith) invests his entire life savings in portable bone-density scanners, which he demonstrates to doctors and pitches as a handy quantum leap over standard X-rays. The scanners play a vital role in Chris' 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 (Thandie Newton), who works as a hotel maid. The financial instability increasingly erodes their marriage, in spite of them caring for their five-year-old son, Christopher (Jaden Smith).


While downtown trying to sell one of the scanners, Gardner meets Jay Twistle (Brian Howe), a manager for Dean Witter Reynolds and impresses him by solving aRubik's Cube during a short taxi ride. After Jay leaves, Gardner lacks money to pay the fare, and chooses to run, resulting in the driver chasing 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 so as to postpone being evicted due to his difficulty in paying the rent. While painting, Gardner is greeted by the police at his doorstep, who takes him to the station, stating he has to pay for his numerous parking tickets he has accumulated. As part of the sanction, Gardner is ordered to spend the night in jail, complicating his schedule for the interview the next morning. He manages to arrive at Dean Witter's office on time, albeit still in his shabby clothes. Despite his appearance, he impresses the interviewers, and lands an internship. He will be amongst 20 interns competing for a paid position as a broker.


Gardner's unpaid internship does not please Linda, who eventually leaves for New York. After Gardner bluntly says she is incapable of being a single mother, she agrees that Christopher will remain with his father. Gardner is further set back when his bank account is garnished by the IRS for unpaid income taxes, and he and his young son are evicted. He ends up with less than twenty-two dollars, resulting in them being homeless¡¦


Group A


1) Do you like biographical dramas? What makes them different from other genres?

2) In your mind, what caused the breakup of this family? Could it happen in your culture? Explain.

3) Why do you think parents (mothers or fathers) would be willing to abandon their families?

4) Is there a genetic pretense for parental neglect, violence, or abandonment? Is there a healing process?

5) Can money buy happiness? Under what conditions? How much $ do you need to be happy?


Group B


1) Can you overcome extreme life challenges alone or do you prefer help? Explain.

2) What advice would you give a child (elementary, middle, high school) about money and career?

3) What was/is your best/worst job in your life? Why do you think so?

4) What was your lowest/poorest/most depressive time in your life? Tell your experience.

5) What was your highest/wealthiest/most joyful time in your life? Tell your experience.


Challenge: Make your own follow-up questions and discuss them.





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~ TLW ~ Movies, Lectures, and Biography ~

Procedures:                                                                                                                 Print Questions: .docx / .doc


1) Watch and Listen to the video trailer and read the text preview

2) Clarify meaning as a class (including comprehension and vocabulary)

3) In pairs or in groups, discuss the vocabulary and movie content

a) If you¡¯ve seen the movie, tell the rest of the story¡¦

b) If you haven¡¯t seen the movie, talk about what you think happens next¡¦

4) In pairs or in groups, discuss the conversation questions

5) As a class, take turns using the conversation questions to expand your ideas

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