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March 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness DVD Review

By Kam Williams

The Pursuit of Happyness DVD Review

Cast: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton, Brian Howe, James Karen
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Format: AC-3, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Rating: PG-13 for profanity.
Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD Release Date: March 27, 2007
Run Time: 117 minutes
DVD Features:
Available Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Father and Son: Onscreen and Off
The Man Behind the Movie: A Conversation with Chris Gardner
Making Pursuit: An Italian Take on the American Dream
Inside the Rubik’s Cube
“I Can” Song (audio only)
Audio commentary with director Gabriele Muccino



DVD Features Will Smith in Oscar-Nominated Performance

In 2003, ABC-TV’s 20/20 did a segment about an honorably-discharged, Navy veteran who had fallen on hard times and ended up homeless on the streets of San Francisco. In the heartbreaking segment, Chris Gardner recounted how, after going broke, being abandoned by his wife, evicted from his apartment, and having his car repossessed, he and his five year-old son soon bottomed-out with no hope in sight. The two ended up eating in soup kitchens, sleeping in church shelters and subway stations, and bathing in public bathrooms, until the frustrated father finally figured a way to extract them from their dire circumstances. Like the hero of your typical Horatio Alger yarn, Gardner gradually pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, and eventually built a multi-million-dollar financial services empire.

The Pursuit of Happyness, an inspirational bio-pic which recounts that triumph, features Will Smith as Gardner in an Oscar-nominated performance, along with his son Jaden as Chris, Jr. Thandie Newton co-stars as Chris’ fed-up ex, Linda, and the cast also includes Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson), as well as Chris Gardner, himself, in a cameo appearance. But make no mistake, this is a Will and Jaden Smith vehicle, their characters’ plight contrasting sharply with the array of spectacular Bay Area locales employed as visually-captivating backdrops. At the point of departure, we find Chris putting in long hours as a door-to-door salesman of an obsolete bone-density machine of not much interest to anyone but thieves.

Then, in short order, Chris is beset by more tests than Job in the Bible, losing everything near and dear to him except his son. Will Smith exudes an endearing charm reminiscent of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, here, so expect to laugh as much as you cry during this touching tearjerker.