There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Gabriele Muccino's The Pursuit of Happyness. Some have suggested that Will Smith could be in line for an Oscar and the trailers I saw suggested a dramatic, heart-rending drama. In fact, The Pursuit of Happyness is a long, boring, mostly bland story of the true life Chris Gardner who had to struggle to become rich.
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a struggling salesman who is trying, along with his wife, Linda (Thandie Newton) to make ends meet. Linda can't take it anymore and decides to leave with Chris demanding custody of his son, Christopher (Jaden Smith). Things go from bad to worse as Chris strives to survive on the streets and provide for his 5-year-old son. Through pure tenacity, optimism, and personality, he is accepted into an internship with a stock-broker company where he has to prove himself worthy of being employed.
There are some touching moments in the story enhanced by the fact that Will and Jaden Smith are actual father and son in real life. But the characters in the story are not all that engaging and the storyline seems drawn out and repetitive. The acclaim for Will Smith's acting possibly has more to do with the fact that his role is more serious than previous ones and is, therefore, noticeable. If he won an Oscar for this role, particularly when he is compared with other actors in other movies this year, I would definitely not be happy!
My Rating: *** (out of 5)
'The tough beauty of the picture is that it lets each viewer weigh the costs and benefits to Gardner. It's a genuinely transporting inspirational movie because it's also a cautionary tale. It doesn't downplay the hero's occasional clumsiness or pigheadedness.' - Michael Sragow/Baltimore Sun
'Too emotionally slick to work, too visually glib to have an impact, made by people who think grit is something that's brought in by the prop department.' - Robert Wilonski/Village Voice