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Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “The Pursuit of Happyness”

(Columbia Pictures. 2007. 1 Disc. Widescreen. 117 minutes. Rated PG-13. Directed by Gabriele Muccino.) Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith. Music by Andrea Guerra.

The ever-popular Will Smith, probably the biggest star in Hollywood now, steps away from his usual comic persona to play the lead in this inspirational true story. He’s Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman struggling to find a way to make a better life for himself and his young son (played by Smith’s real-life son Jaden). The screenplay is very loosely based on Gardner’s memoir, which I had already read; many changes were made from the book, in fact too many. Gardner’s hardscrabble years growing up in Milwaukee (including surviving a sexual assault), and his time in the military, color who he was by the time he made it to California, but those experiences are only briefly referred to in the movie. His San Francisco girlfriend disappears completely. The Smiths are good and so is the film, but for a far more complete picture of Gardner’s fascinating journey from poverty to owner of his own brokerage firm, his book is the way to go. DVD extras include a director’s commentary and several featurettes.