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The Pursuit of Happyness

Year: 2007
Production Co: Overbrook Entertainment
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Producer: Will Smith
Cast: Will Smith, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Thandie Newton
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Will Smith continues to blaze a thesping trail as real-life rags-to-riches character Chris Gardner. He and his wife (Newton) and young son (real life son Smith) aren't at all well off, but they're managing.

A series of bad decisions and extremely bad luck catches up with Chris when his wife leaves, he's evicted and can't shift the last of the disastrous investment in a pile of medical bone density scanners no doctors want.

There are shades of Life is Beautiful as Gardner does everything he can to shield his son from the horrors of the cruel world, even while they slide further into the abyss, culminating in a true rock bottom; sleeping in a train station men's room.

After seeing a guy pull up in a ritzy sports car, Chris gets talking to him. He's a stockbroker, and whether Chris decides on a whim to pursue the new career or this is just the thing that tips the balance isn't explained, but it leads to a highly sought after but unpaid internship at a prestigious stockbroking house. In his off hours, Chris still has to scratch a living out of the meagre means available to him and ensure he stays on top of the class and gets the single job offer that comes out of the internship among 20 candidates.

There are flashes of the charismatic Smith here and there for the sake of humour, but looking like a young Jesse Jackson, he carries the movie single-handedly with honest emotion. There's neither too much schmaltz nor too much abject misery, the movie coasting comfortably between throughout, and it's a fresh spin on the old little-guy-makes-it motif. Smith's relief at the final victory is touching and palpable, capping off a great dramatic performance.

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