Plays like an unravelling of the Eighties comedy hit Trading Places. Instead of a smart-Alec street hustler who turns the tables on his seemingly benign patrons, we have a smart saint who simply wants to join the club.
| Original Score: 2/5
The film unspools like a souped-up vanity project.
| Original Score: 1/5
It's not about happiness. It's about money. The film boasts of how many millions Gardner makes. Is he happy? You bet. It's like being forced to watch self-help videos, while Mr Motivator molests you.
One can detect almost the spirit of a public information film nagging the audience: look, people, the American Dream doesn't come for free.
The on-screen chemistry between father and son is a winning formula - lifting the film from just another tear-jerker into a heartfelt and compelling slice of cinema.
| Original Score: 4.5/4
May have a slight TV movie vibe to it, but Gardner's story is so stirring and so incredible that it really doesn't matter.
| Original Score: 4/5
The screenwriting 101 plot points tick off like clockwork, but Will Smith delivers a solid, likable performance that will likely result in an Oscar nomination.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
...ideology aside, "The Pursuit of Happyness" works as a film that celebrates people who toil for a better life.
| Original Score: 3/5
Arguably the most depressing inspirational movie of the year.
| Original Score: C+
That Will Smith is capable of this great performance should not be surprising.
An old-fashioned Hollywood heartwarmer.
With a terrific central performance by Will Smith, this is a well made, sharply written and ultimately uplifting drama, but it really piles on the misery before you get there.
Smith hits all the right notes - understated, engaging, inspirational - even if his young son threatens to charm him off the screen.
In the end the film feels like an average made-for-TV movie, if there were a cable channel for the sensitive man.
| Original Score: 2/4
Gardner's fight is everyman's fight... to remain true to his material objectives without sacrificing that which really matters to him-- his trusting little shadow.
| Original Score: A
Directed by talented young Gabriele Muccino, the film benefits from his outsider's observations, and he is far too smart a filmmaker to let schmaltz creep into the tone.
An admirably unsentimental biopic with an excellent central performance, but it doesn't impact as strongly as it could.
Smith's bottomless capacity for charm saves the movie from itself.
It's a good story that features a great cast, and while moviegoers will undoubtedly still show up in throngs during opening weekend, I can't help but feel that they'll be somewhat disappointed.
This is Smith as you've never seen him -- an unsure, struggling, frustrated guy trying to hold together his family and failing.
| Original Score: 3.5/5