I am the type of person that is content with watching movies in my apartment and eating popcorn while everyone else is out enjoying themselves. Although I like watching movies to get my mind off of the stress of school, I also watch movies to learn life lessons. The most inspirational movies I’ve seen are “The Pursuit of Happiness” and “A Thousand Words.” Each of these movies have one thing in common, it involves a battle of personal development, something we all struggle with in life. My hope is that after dissecting these movies, you will begin to open your mind and ask yourself “What areas needs improvement in my life?” There is a saying, “you are your best teacher,” but I believe that we learn some of the biggest life lessons in a movie.

“The Pursuit of Happiness is a movie that stars Will Smith, who plays a single father name Chris Gardener, who tries to find his way in life despite various hardships. Forced out of their apartment, he and his son, Jayden Smith, walk the streets of San Francisco, hoping to find shelter. Chris is an entrepreneur who spends his life saving money to get portable bone density scanners, which is the next level to standard X-Rays. The rate at which he sales them are slow, adding to more problems. He gets an internship at a prestigious brokerage firm, but he makes no money from it. Throughout the movie, Chris is running, whether it be to find a place for him and his son to stay for another night or to catch the next bus. One day, they go to the train station and just before he gives up hope, he sees the sad look on his son’s face. He realizes that his son understands their struggle, so he uses his imagination to get his son’s mind off the fact that they are homeless. He convinces his son that his bone density scanner is a time machine. Chris tells his son to close his eyes and push a button on the machine and they both explore an imaginary world.

Chris is one of us; every day is a struggle for him, but he learns not to give up. As college students, we face many challenges whether it be passing a class or paying for student loans. Some days, it will feel like the world is against you, trust me, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to struggle. My mom is a single parent that worries about how she is going to keep our house. She was laid off of her job when I was in high school and ever since then she has been struggling to find a teaching job. It hurts me to see her worry day and night because she has dedicated her life to her children.

I went home for Easter last week to spend time with my family. My mom and I watched Steve Harvey’s “Little Big Shots.” I was happy to see her smiling and laughing and for once and not worry about paying the bills. The next morning, I woke up to get ready to go back to school and I saw my mom on her knees in our living room praying. Even though she has been through so much, her faith is stronger than anything. Recently, she received a job as a substitute teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She hopes to get a better paying job, but I am happy that she is making progress. My mom taught me a valuable lesson as a child, God will make a way.

“A Thousand Words” is a movie that stars Eddie Murphey who plays Jack McCall, a selfish literary agent who talks too much and eventually learns that his words will cost him his life. He tries to get book deals from people, one being a spiritual guru named Dr. Singa (Cliff Curtis). Dr. Singa notices his deception and agrees to the deal, but when it is time for Jack to show his staff the book, they find out that it is only five pages long. Later that night, Jack notices a Bodhi Tree appearing out of the ground of his back yard. The tree is significant because it is connected to him, in fact, it is him. Dr. Singa goes to Jack’s house and Jack rambles on about the tree. They soon find out that for every word Jack says, a leaf falls off of the tree. The tree represents his strength, so as the leaves falls off the tree, he gets sick. When all of the leaves falls off of the tree, Jack will die. Frustrated at this new phenomenon, he tries to communicate with his wife Caroline (Kerry Washington) using non -verbal communication. However, she gets the impression that he does not love her anymore, so she asks him, “do you love me?” He knows that his life is on the line, so he doesn’t answer and she suggests that they get a divorce. At the end of the movie Jack is weak and has used up all of his words and dies.

During Jacks life, his mother suffered from Alzheimer’s and often calls him Raymond, which is his father’s name. After Jack dies, he sees a little boy that was himself as a child. The boy calls him dad and Jack says, “I’m not dad, I’m you. I’m Jack too you know.” The boy then asks him where he has been, explaining that he left, then he died. Jack apologizes for leaving out of his life, which symbolizes that Jack didn’t have a close relationship with his father. This experience gives him some closure and Jack comes back to life as a new person. He is happier and finds out that all of the leaves are back on the Bodhi Tree.

“The Pursuit of Happiness” and “A Thousand Words” portrays valuable life lessons as both characters learn personal development within their complicated lives. In many ways, we have had similar life experiences as the characters and we must learn the most effective way to deal with our problems. When life knocks us down, we have two options; dust the dirt off and get up or stay on the ground. Chris Gardener and Jack McCall decided to get up. They made the best decision in life, that is to live. Despite the problems you are facing right now, just remember that there are people in the world that are doing worse than you. If you take it one step at a time, you will begin to experience life more abundantly.

STAR JOHNSON is a blogger for The Vidette. She can be reached at vidette_sjohns7@Exchange.ilstu.edu Follow her on Twitter at @Star2flyy_


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