The Pursuit of Happyness

Rated 3.0

A struggling salesman in San Francisco (Will Smith) decides to take a long-odds shot at becoming a stockbroker—then his embittered wife (Thandie Newton) leaves him and their five-year-old son (Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Will’s son in real life), and he has to struggle even harder. Written by Steve Conrad and directed by Gabriele Muccino, the movie is well made and extremely well acted by both Smiths, but also a bit of an endurance test. Our hero’s path is so strewn with setbacks and rotten luck that it becomes almost as nerve-wracking to watch as it must have been to live (assuming the “inspired by a true story” bit can be believed): Pursued by Misery might seem to be a more appropriate title. Newton does her best to make her role more than the cardboard shrew Conrad has written for her.