For anybody who ever has been at the bottom, or feared they were headed there, it's a reminder that there's no guarantee of luck or happiness in the Declaration of Independence -- just the right to pursue it.
The movie is essentially a vehicle for Smith, but the actor more than rises to the challenge. Rarely has attaining the American Dream seemed so impossible or daunting or so intensely, profoundly satisfying.
The whole thing works. This earnest, modest, sweet little ode to paternal love is meant to warm the cockles of our hearts in a season overrun with cockle-warming, and even a recalcitrant Scrooge may sniff back a few salty droplets.
I left the movie thinking that a whole lot of folks in Gardner's situation can't do what he did. They can't break the cycle of poverty. They never get off the street. But this is the story of one man who made it, and Smith does him justice.
Pursuit of Happyness isn't just a balm intended to heal negative depictions of AWOL African-American fathers. The movie pays respect to all single parents striving to do the right thing with few resources.
The Pursuit of Happyness goes beyond tugging at our heartstrings. It plucks them, strokes them, strums them, plays them for all they're worth. That's both the strength and the weakness of this inspirational drama.
While he doesn't stint on the warm 'n' fuzzies, Italian director Gabriele Muccino doesn't mind showing us what sleeping in a homeless shelter or, worse yet, in the men's room at a BART station, looks like.
At its core The Pursuit of Happyness is a good story -- one that's literally rags to riches, and didn't need the many tweaks and embellishments that Italian director Gabriele Muccino and writer Steven Conrad have added.