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Generally favorable reviews- based on 244 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 52 out of 244

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  1. Nov 12, 2010
    The movie was wonderful,yes,emotional,yes,depressing,yes,dull,no,long,no,and definitely not at all bad...Smith's performance was truly a highlight through out and Jaden Smith also played his part brilliantly...AS a result i was able to spot this certain connection between the two that felt really good.Apart from the acting,the rest was also pretty good....
  2. Feb 27, 2011
    Will Smith has been used to playing brainless roles in big dumb action movies. It's a nice change to see him playing a more serious role for a change. The whole movie was about acting. There were no special effects, no bells and whistles, it was Will Smith's acting ability and the genuine bond with his real son that made Christopher so believable.
  3. Mar 24, 2011
    I gave this movie 8 out of 10, for the simple reason and premise that it is based upon a real story, and that the performances are strong and true to its overall content. Will Smith is NOT the revelation of this movie, it is his son, Jaden. Strange irony for me to say this, because Smith is one of the most talented actors/performers alive and is a personal favorite of mine. Director Gabriele Muccino hasn't done anything extraordinary, but has simply made an ordinary, real-life story extraordinarily uplifting. And he has his actors as well as Andrea Guerra's moving background score to thank. Probably disrespectful for me to say this, considering that a movie's success/failure depends entirely on its direction and concept. So let me retract my earlier line about the director! Smith's Chris Gardner might probably be the unluckiest guy in the world, as he runs around with what could safely be described as 'an object from outer space,' but does so with such urgency that even his own wife, played horribly by Thandie Newton, thinks it's a useless idea. Funny she should think that, considering she moved in with Chris in a new house because the objects (portable bone density scanners) once seemed highly potential for their future. Newton's Linda Gardner is a bit too unnatural and hurried for me. If she had reasons to be so cross and frustrated with Chris and their normal life, she probably could have done with a few more scenes, either shadows or memories from the past or even the present. But Linda felt a bit too hyper anxious and helpless. Jaden Smith doesn't disappoint in his movie debut - the kid can act! And what's more, he does it seemingly effortlessly. I wonder if Smith was just stunned and speechless during the outtakes, because sometimes, Junior Smith can be so impeccably natural. What moved me equally was the beautiful score by Andrea Guerra - it was just the foundation that the movie needed. It was calm, subdued, powerful, and emotional. When, in the scene where Chris is told that he's got a job and he gets out of the office to enjoy a rare moment of sheer happiness and even personal vindication, the background emphatic score lifts the spirit up as much as Smith's precise and wonderful performance does. All in all, it was a wonderful movie in life lessons. And lastly, before I forget, I enjoyed the Happyness part, the graffitti on the wall that Chris Gardner was so conscious and expressive about. Funny he should be so insightful and verbal about such typos when his own life was a train wreck going downhill! This is the magic of the movie - it is the painful irony of life, and the eventual joy of true hard-earned satisfaction in the pursuit of real 'happyness.' Expand
  4. May 28, 2013
    The film is always in the pursuit of great things, and we are always tasked with feeling depressed or emotional when the story unfolds, and lead character Will Smith and his real life son Jaden give is so many reasons to feel this way after watching The Pursuit of Happyness.
    Based on a true story, Smith plays Chris Gardner, a smart and traditional family man, but also a down on his luck
    individual who is late with his rent, his childcare payments and and must fund these essentials through the sale of bone density scanners, a luxurious spin on X-ray machines, and that exact point is just what makes these things so hard to sell, a pointless luxury.
    As Chris is tempted by the perks of being a stockbroker in the 1980s, his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) has had enough of Chris' lack of deliverance on the family front, and decides enough is enough. The punch here, however, is that Chris is desperately trying to provide for his family, he just doesn't know how.
    When Chris decides to pursue the stockbroker prospect, he gets accepted onto an unpaid internship lasting six months. As Chris delegates over what his future prospects are, he must think about the present, and of course his son.
    Will Smith delivers an awe-inspiring performance as the unlucky man in San Francisco, we see his anger, frustration but love for his son all at play, and he must put up with many people he simply don't understand. Smith's son Jaden also performs brilliantly in his debut performance as Chris' son Christopher, he's just a kid who wants to have a normal life, but also seems to understand what his father is going through, and shows flashes of his dad's intelligence which creates a wonderful father/son dynamic, even when a night spent in a public toilet just for warmth brings them closer than ever.
    But what has been sacrificed in an otherwise flawless film is the notion that even if the real story of Chris Gardner isn't familiar to the viewer, there is rarely a downbeat moment where we believe there isn't going to be a happy ending, the constant talk of happiness and how it may be misinterpreted are giveaways throughout the film, leading to a predictable, but still satisfying ending.
    A touching and happy story is told, with inspired performances from Will and Jaden Smith that works on the father and son dynamic of being a team and always sticking around for each other.
  5. Feb 13, 2013
    A movie of severe suffering and unbelievable perseverance. The Pursuit of Happiness is a triumphant of a film of one man's struggle. Brilliantly executed coupled with Will Smith giving an acting performance of his career.
  6. Jan 3, 2013
    A very inspiring tale based on an inspiring true story of Chris Gardner who roamed the streets after events of failing to pay rents,taxes,etc. Will Smith does a great job at being a very smart and talented person might do if they were in a situation like that. Jaden Smith is just flat out cute.
  7. Feb 22, 2013
    This piece of junk edged out Babel as the worst film I saw in 2006, and stands firm as maybe the worst film I have ever seen. Definitely top five. The entire over-long endeavor essentially presents scene after scene of Will Smith running, being a jerk to people, running some more, riding busses, disobeying pedestrian traffic laws, sitting down, laying down, running, etc., etc. If you like this film you just have horrible taste. I can reach no other conclusion. Expand

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. It's a beautiful and understated performance, one that hums with a richer, quieter music than Smith has mustered before.
  2. This is a slick studio production with a huge movie star and top professionals occupying every production role so that the polish of this well-made film makes even homelessness look neat and tidy.
  3. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    The Pursuit of Happyness is more inspirational than creatively inspired -- imbued with the kind of uplifting, afterschool-special qualities that can trigger a major toothache.