The Pursuit of Happyness (12A)

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The Independent Culture

This new Will Smith vehiclewas "inspired" by the story of Chris Gardner, a struggling San Francisco salesman who dedicated himself to becoming a stockbroker in the early 1980s, even though it meant he had to work through a six-month internship while sleeping in homeless shelters with his infant son.

The film's producers have aged-up Gardner's baby son into an Afro-sporting five-year-old (Will Smith's own son - deep breath - Jaden Christopher Syre Smith), and they've stripped Gardner of the stipend he received as an intern. But for all its cheating, The Pursuit Of Happyness is still no more than a TV melodrama. There are no twists and no tension - just scene after scene of Smith running through the streets, perpetually late for one meeting or another. He must have done more exercise making this film than he did making Ali.

The fundamental problem with The Pursuit of Happyness is that its hero doesn't want to make the world a better place; he wants to sit in an office amassing cash. I've got nothing against stockbrokers, but by portraying Gardner as a personable, diligent maths whiz, The Pursuit of Happyness forces us to ask how commendable it was for him to bed down his child in a doss house while he did unpaid work experience. Wouldn't it have been nobler to put the American dream aside and get a job?

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