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Movie Review: Pursuit of Happyness

Alternate Title: When life gives you lemons.....

Story: It took longer than normal for me to write this review because I had to peel all of the sappy residue from my body in order to write an honest review.

How many ways can you tell the tale of a down and out guy who tries to lift himself by his bootstraps to feed his family? This film manages to tell all of them in just about two hours.

Our 1981 hero, based on the true life story of Chris Gardner, finds himself as a salesman with a bone density product machine that no one wants to buy, a wife that loses hope and leaves him, a five year old son who needs him and who he adores. Our hero is out of hope, out of money, out of luck.

We watch episodically, as he goes from one trauma to another, in his efforts to catch the dream of the good life. He becomes an intern at Dean Witter. Life is tough as we learn that over and over and over and over and yes, over again. Did I mention that Will Smith does an absolutely unneeded narration during this very self explanatory film?

The film is depressing, long, repetitive, grinding, cloying, mawkish and draining.

Other than that...it is fine. If you like feel good films, this is not for you because the feel good part only comes in the last five minutes. First time Italian director Gabriele Muccino sucks the life out of this rags to riches film. There is no end to the drama from one scene to the next. There is no humor, no humanity and no relief for the movie-goer.

Stay away!

Acting: Will Smith is better in films when he has his swagger and attitude. I got tired very quickly of his expressionless, emotionless countenance and longed for his usual attitude. His real life son, Jaden, is cute as a button but, so what? What floppy haired, toothy, five year old is not cute?

Predilection: None

Critters: A golden retriever

Food: Burgers, fries and cereal.

Blatant Product Placement: Dean Witter and Sony

Soundtrack: When 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' started playing I eye-rolled and gave up.

Theater Audience: About ten silent folk and me.

Weather: The usual San Francisco variation in climate.

Sappy Factor: 5

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0


Drift Factor: I looked at my watch for the first time at exactly 45 minutes. Not a good sign.

Predictability Level: Over the top


Tissue Usage: You would have to have a heart of stone not to at least get a little teary eyed at the finale.

Oscar Worthy: A very loud NO

Big Screen or Rental: Neither

Length: A tad under two hours but it seemed much longer.