Matthew Lickona 2:57 p.m., May 17
The Pursuit of Happyness
The attainment of sappyness. A hand-to-mouth San Francisco salesman -- of portable bone-density scanners, an unnecessary luxury item -- lands an unsalaried competitive internship at Dean Witter, but not before his wife walks out on him and their five-year-old son ("Did Mom leave because of me?"). The star is the amiable Will Smith, but the director is Italian, Gabriele Muccino of The Last Kiss, which might inspire certain types of filmgoers to draw analogies to the Little Man humanism of De Sica and Company. The poignance, to be sure, is commensurately unrelenting (pushing through to schmaltziness), but the only real grit is in the graininess of the digital image. And the emotional payoff -- this isn't postwar Italy, after all -- comes in the form of a cash jackpot. Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Thandie Newton, Brian Howe, James Karen, Dan Castellaneta. 2006.
— Duncan Shepherd
- Rated PG-13