The Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13)

Drama 116 December 15, 2006
By Robert Wilonsky
Will Smith, his career in need of redemption, stars in a film about, gosh, redemption. It's the true-life tale of Chris Gardner, who, it can be said without fear of treading into cliché, lived a rags-to-riches life. In the early 1980s, he pounded the San Francisco pavement trying to offload medical scanners into which he had sunk his family’s nest egg. But by 1983, Gardner was sleeping in San Fran's Union Square and eating in soup kitchens. Yet at the same time, he was also interning, gratis, at Dean Witter. Eventually he wound up not only securing a job with the stock brokerage, but forming his own investment company, which he's in the midst of selling for multimillions today. Smith loves this guy -- or, at the very least, this role, the feel-bad part in a feel-good movie about a man whose life crumbles and collapses bit by agonizing bit, till it's made whole and happy in the final minutes. Smith shows necessary restraint and brings welcome buoyancy to the part. But despite all of that, in the end you're constantly aware that he's reminding us of his range: I can grin and frown, see?
Gabriele Muccino Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith, Dan Castellaneta, Zuhair Haddad, Brian Howe Steve Conrad Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Mark Clayman, James Lassiter, Will Smith, Steve Tisch Sony Pictures