The Pursuit of Happyness Reviews

Top Critic
Mark Salisbury
Time Out
January 11, 2007
Smith hits all the right notes - understated, engaging, inspirational - even if his young son threatens to charm him off the screen.
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Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
December 30, 2006
This is Smith as you've never seen him -- an unsure, struggling, frustrated guy trying to hold together his family and failing.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
December 18, 2006
As cynical as I am, I have to admit I was completely won over by Smith's sincere and deeply effective work as a guy who was knocked down again and again, but refused to stay on the canvas.
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
December 17, 2006
A by-the-numbers piece of Hollywood inspiration.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
December 15, 2006
Some people will see The Pursuit of Happyness as a glorification of capitalism, but the movie is much less about 'getting' than it is about 'not having.'
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
December 15, 2006
The Pursuit of Happyness can't imagine anything worse than being poor. Except maybe being surrounded by poor people.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
December 15, 2006
Ultimately, the real Chris Gardner emerges as an inspirational American success story -- and Will Smith emerges as a fine and nuanced actor.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
December 15, 2006
Will Smith has the right quality for the role -- he's an easy man to root for -- but he augments this by channeling some inner quality of desperation and need.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 15, 2006
A movie star who can slip easily into high-beam mode, Smith gives a restrained and nuanced turn.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
December 15, 2006
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 15, 2006
Honest tears, honestly earned, is the credo and it's practiced here.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
December 15, 2006
Smith may be the closest Hollywood has to a modern Cary Grant, an instantly likable actor comfortable in every role he attempts.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
December 15, 2006
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Kevin Crust
Los Angeles Times
December 15, 2006
There are worse ways to spend the holidays, and, at the least, it will likely make you appreciate your own circumstances.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
December 15, 2006
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
December 15, 2006
For an expensive, mainstream Hollywood movie, The Pursuit of Happyness is crisscrossed with mixed motives.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
December 15, 2006
The Pursuit of Happyness attempts to be a warm movie with a good message. But its message is substantially skewed and the resulting warmth factor is decidedly low.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
December 15, 2006
The subject of The Pursuit of Happyness denies all the odds and refuses to quit, and this movie has the same fighting, American spirit.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
December 15, 2006
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.
| Original Score: B
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
December 15, 2006
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Robert W. Butler
Dallas Morning News
December 15, 2006
Few on-screen father-son relationships have felt more authentic than that depicted by Will Smith and his real-life son in The Pursuit of Happyness.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
December 15, 2006
It's a fine film, with a portrait of fatherhood that feels scuffed and driven and real.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
December 14, 2006
The role needs gravity, smarts, charm, humor and a soul that's not synthetic. Smith brings it. He's the real deal.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
December 14, 2006
Thankfully, humor leavens the dark journey, and little Jaden and his jokes go a long way to warm our hearts.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
December 14, 2006
Smith is resourceful in the role, though the story stretches one's credulity about his character's resourcefulness.
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
December 14, 2006
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.
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
December 14, 2006
Smith hasn't delivered this kind of earnest, emotionally raw performance since Ali, and his Chris Gardner is every bit as complex.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
December 14, 2006
A fairy tale in realist drag, The Pursuit of Happyness is the kind of entertainment that goes down smoothly until it gets stuck in your craw.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
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Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
December 14, 2006
The Pursuit of Happyness is the biography of a real guy named Christopher Gardner, whom Will Smith, charming and bright, embodies to the fingertips.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
December 14, 2006
It's almost impossible to watch this movie and not, on some level beyond reason, succumb. The Pursuit of Happyness is an expert piece of calculation: a male weepie engineered for the whole family.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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David Ansen
Newsweek
December 14, 2006
[An] honorable but dogged effort.
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
December 14, 2006
Winter's coming in hard, but this season's leading cause of the sniffles is going to be The Pursuit of Happyness, a viral blast of the American Dream. It's Rocky with a briefcase.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
December 14, 2006
Smith is terrific and moving in this film. The film itself is more conventional. Yet it's better-crafted and less obviously ruthless in the pathos department than you'd expect.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 14, 2006
How is it that movies 'inspired by a real story' often feel more fake than those fully embedded in the realm of fiction?
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Gene Seymour
Newsday
December 14, 2006
Pursuit of Happyness is at its most resonant when the metaphorical stone Gardner strains to push up the mountain of his desires rolls back on him.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
December 14, 2006
For a movie conceived and executed in the mainstream Hollywood idiom, it has uncommon depth and honesty. And the thing it's honest about is the embarrassment and humiliation of being poor.
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Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
December 14, 2006
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.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
December 12, 2006
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.
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Robert Wilonsky
Village Voice
December 12, 2006
The movie, the first English-language film directed by Italian Gabriele Muccino, is too emotionally slick to work, too visually glib to have an impact.
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
December 11, 2006
You have to wonder why director Gabriele Muccino chose to dramatize the poor man's plight by having him run constantly through the streets of San Francisco. What ever became of quiet desperation?
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
December 11, 2006
The movie is an economic cliff-hanger.
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Brian Lowry
Variety
December 7, 2006
... The Pursuit of Happyness winds up being a little like the determined salesman Mr. Gardner himself: easy to root for, certainly, but not that much fun to spend time with.
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
December 7, 2006
... this is a slick studio production with a huge movie star and top professionals occupying every production role so that the polish of this well-made film makes even homelessness look neat and tidy.
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
December 6, 2006
The Pursuit of Happyness speaks eloquently to the anxieties of our own time, when staying afloat, let alone movin' on up, has rarely been tougher.
Full Review | Original Score: B+