The Pursuit of Happyness Gabriele Muccino

Horatio Alger gets his day in court with Will Smith as counsel for the defence; the result is The Pursuit of Happyness, which is at once highly watchable but slightly suspect. The source is a memoir by stockbroker Chris Gardner (Smith), who went from homeless to wealthy with the American Dream’s necessary elbow grease. At first, he’s unsuccessfully selling bone marrow scanners while shrewish wife Thandie Newton heaps on the abuse. Eventually he loses his wife and barely clings to his son as he snags an unpaid internship and struggles to make ends meet. He can’t pay the rent, the taxman is at his door and to top it all off his day-care specialist has the kids watching The Love Boat. But though he scrapes bottom at a homeless shelter, it’s inevitable that he’ll bounce back. The film is designed as a vindication of the American way but any system that requires temporary homelessness as a precondition for success is more than a little broken. Still, the movie manages to hold you for all of its sentimentality thanks to Gabriele Muccino’s unobtrusive direction; he manages to downplay the emotions where another director would have drizzled on the power effects. The film has its logical flaws (scanners fly off the shelves every time Smith needs emergency cash) but there is satisfaction to be had from the star and his benign charisma. Extras include a convivial but superficial commentary by Muccino, a decent-if-too-credulous "making of” doc, glowing profiles of Smith and Gardner on set, background on the Rubik’s Cube (you had to be there), and audio for the song "I Can.” (Sony)