pursuit of happyness movie poster; purple background

The Pursuit of Happyness: A Movie Review For Parents

Updated June 5, 2023


Overall Rating: ⭐ 3.0 / 5

Recommended Age: 14 and up

If you’re looking for a moving, powerful story of determination, then The Pursuit of Happyness may be your answer! Based on a true story, Chris Gardner is a single dad living in San Francisco with his 5-year-old son named Christoper. Chris finds himself broke and evicted from his apartment — but he has an unstoppable belief that he can work his way to a better life for his family. He seems to encounter every obstacle imaginable, and yet he never gives up hope. 

This movie is a great experience and teaching moment for tweens and teens, but some of the heavy themes may not be suitable for younger kids. We reviewed the movie and noted some key elements — like language, sex, violence, and more — so you can be prepared before you show your kids. So let’s dive in! 

Harmful Content ❗️


This movie is rated PG-13 and it hits on some deep, emotionally mature topics. For example, Christopher’s mother decides to leave early on in the movie. Then, he asks if she left because of him. Additionally, Chris faces many injustices as he works hard to provide for his family but never seems able to get ahead. In moments of frustration, he yells at Christopher to get him to listen or stop crying. Some of these scenes and topics may be too much for younger kids. The movie also briefly hints at the topic of racism, when Chris appears to be undermined compared to his white counterparts. 

Chris does some questionable things in moments of desperation. For one, he gets in a taxi without any means to pay for the ride and makes a break for it. He also lies to save face in front of his co-workers and clients. In the context of the story, Chris clearly feels he has no other option but to do these things. So while Chris makes some poor decisions when he’s in a tough spot, we also see him in other moments decide to tell the truth even when lying would’ve been easier.



There is some profanity throughout the movie, including “s**t”, “ass”, “b***h”, and one instance of the F-bomb. 



There are no sexual depictions or themes in the movie. However, at the beginning of the movie, Christopher’s mom is seen in a bra as she’s getting ready for work. 



The Pursuit of Happyness is not a violent movie, though there are some scenes that get a little physical. For example, while Chris and his son are waiting in line at a homeless shelter, Chris gets into a heated argument with another homeless man. It’s mostly lots of yelling and he briefly puts his hands on the other man.

Positive Value 💫


Chris’ relationship with his son is the driving force of the movie. Chris is determined to be successful so that his son can have a better life. He wants to show Christopher that anything is possible, as long as you’re willing to overcome the challenges. He does everything he can to keep Christopher close to him, even when he has to sacrifice things to do so. 


Chris goes above and beyond in almost every way to achieve his goal. Whether it’s at work or in his personal life, Chris’s hard work is inspirational to anyone who watches. Additionally, the fact that this is based on a true story adds another element of inspiration. This is a great opportunity to look up the original story with your kids and maybe even read Chris Gardner’s personal account from his book

So, should my kid watch it?

Yes, as long as your kid is old enough to appreciate the emotionally complex themes of the movie. We suggest around age 13, but you know your kids best!