The Pursuit of Happyness

  • 12
  • Gabriele Muccino (2006)
  • US
  • 112 min
The Pursuit of Happyness
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Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

Will Smith reins in his customary exuberance to deliver a beautifully understated performance as real-life San Francisco father Chris Gardner, who, in the 1980s, battled against astonishing adversity to achieve his American Dream. When his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) leaves him, Gardner takes custody of their five-year-old child (played by Smith's delightful real-life son, Jaden) and then faces a catalogue of disasters as they become homeless and he tries to pursue a new career. Smith's restraint works wonderfully here and he makes every facial flicker count. Yet while Gardner's spirits surprisingly never droop despite his tribulations, the same cannot be said for those watching this noble rags-to-riches drama. The overall message may be a positive one, but it's agonising to watch such a decent man suffer, with Italian director Gabriele Muccino (The Last Kiss) seemingly determined to keep his English language debut as unsentimental as possible. Ultimately the film is expertly constructed with faultless central turns, but it would have benefited from being more uplifting.

Plot Summary

Drama based on a true story, starring Will Smith and featuring Jaden Smith. After his wife walks out, downtrodden medical salesman Chris Gardner is left to bring up his five-year-old son alone. The situation worsens when the pair are made homeless, but Gardner refuses to be beaten. Gaining a prestigious though unpaid stockbroker internship, he doggedly chases his dream of a better life.

Cast and crew


Chris Gardner
Will Smith
Jaden Smith
Thandie Newton
Jay Twistle
Brian Howe
Martin Frohm
James Karen
Alan Frakesh
Dan Castellaneta
Walter Ribbon
Kurt Fuller
Mrs Chu
Takayo Fischer
World's Greatest Dad
Kevin West
Chinese maintenance worker
George Kee Cheung


Gabriele Muccino

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Edited for language.
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 12 Jan 2007
Certificate 12