Top 5 Will Smith Films
Though you may still see him as the fresh-faced Prince of Bel Air, believe it or not, Will Smith actually turns 48 years old today. But rather than wallow in pity at where the years went, we thought we’d celebrate the Fresh Prince with a run-down of what we think are his best 5 films to date!
5) Bad Boys (1995)
Maybe it shouldn’t go into a ‘best of’ list but it would certainly walk into our ‘favourites’ list, and we make the rules around here. Bad Boys follows Miami detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence); one is a single-minded bachelor, the other is a family man – guess which one Smith is? While there is a plot to Bad Boys, it’s not important. There’s some action and there’s some farce, but really all you need to know about Michael Bay’s first action-comedy/crime thriller is that there’s explosions, a high body count, and Smith and Lawrence are in hilarious form. It was a toss-up between the first and second film for our list, we just hope Bad Boys For Life, which is slated to arrive in January 2018, lives up to expectations!
4) Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
One of Smith’s more intense roles, Six Degrees of Separation follows the fascinating story of real-life con artist David Hampton. Adapted from the John Guare play, Smith plays Paul, a smooth-talking charlatan who shows up on the doorstep of a wealthy New York couple (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing) covered in blood. Using his charms, he quickly gets a bed for the night convincing the couple he’s a friend of their Ivy League children, as well as the son of Sidney Poitier. The film itself is interesting enough given its real life origins but it’s Smith’s performance as the charismatic Paul which makes Six Degrees so fascinating.
3) Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day was a huge success upon its release in 1996 with Roland Emmerich’s alien invasion epic packing as much wit and humour as action thanks to Smith and an always brilliant Jeff Goldblum. Smith plays the hero Marine Corps pilot who winds up leading Earth’s resistance against the deadly extra-terrestrials alongside Goldblum’s computer geek, David. The effects may have dated now, but at the time watching aliens blow up the White House was something truly awesome. Yes, it’s a quintessential cheesy blockbuster, and some of the dialogue is horrific, but we wouldn’t want to bathe in the greatness of an alien invasion in any other way.
2) Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Sharing a screen with his son Jaden, The Pursuit of Happyness stars Big Willy Style as Chris Gardner, a real life father who escaped poverty and homelessness to become a successful stockbroker in San Francisco. As you’d be able to tell from the synopsis alone, The Pursuit of Happyness can be a little mawkish at times, but it’s hard to not be touched by Gabriele Muccino’s rousing rags-to-riches tale of the American Dream. Both of the Smith boys are excellent, with Daddy Fresh Prince putting in probably the performance of his career. It’s uncharacteristically subtlety, with desperation and vulnerability never staying into weakness. Films don’t get more uplifting than this.
1) Men in Black (1997)
But when all is said and done, Will Smith will always be at his best when he’s looking cool and charismatically dropping one-liners. Which is why Smith’s blend of charm and swagger was the perfect foil for Tommy Lee Jones’ straight and narrow in the first Men in Black. The comic-book sci-fi blockbuster centres around two coifed undercover agents policing alien immigration into America. It’s vividly bonkers and uber cool, with both Smith and Lee Jones at the pinnacle of their comic powers. The theme song is pretty great too!