The Pursuit of Happyness 2006 

If you didn't know going in that "The Pursuit of Happyness" ultimately ends on an uplifting note, it might seem like an exercise in unmitigated misery. Based on a real-life rags-to-riches story, the movie subjects its protagonist to travails that stop just short of finding him tied to the railroad tracks.

Set in the San Francisco of 1981, the film details how Chris Gardner (Will Smith) worked as an unpaid internship at a stock brokerage firm while raising his young son (winningly played by Smith's real-life child, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith). Like the Ringo Starr song says, "It don't come easy ..."

Chris barely ekes out a living selling overpriced bone-density scanners. Then his wife (Thandie Newton) leaves him. Eventually, father and son are left homeless and reduced to sleeping in a subway station restroom.

If "Pursuit" occasionally hits the overwrought meter, it consistently benefits from Smith's Oscar-nominated performance. The actor's likability and self-assuredness helps smooth out the movie's rougher edges.

 

The DVD includes several so-so featurettes and a commentary by director Gabriele Muccino. "?Phil Bacharach

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