The Pursuit of Happyness subverts every cliche in its path as it tells a small, fictionalized piece of the life of Chris Gardner, a struggling medical-equipment vendor who stakes his future on becoming a top stockbroker. Set in early-1980s San Francisco, this movie is about the life of a salesman - a man whose dream of finding security and prosperity for himself and his pre-school-age son takes on the qualities of heroic obsession moviemakers usually link to artists and mad scientists.
With Quincy Troupe, Gardner wrote the best-selling memoir of the same name. The moviemakers have skillfully distilled his quest and fermented their own creation while maintaining its first-person immediacy and warmth. (The studio has been pushing the film for an Oscar for best original screenplay, not adapted one.) They generate searing truths and 100-proof impact.
The Pursuit of Happyness (Sony) Starring Will Smith, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, Thandie Newton. Directed by Gabriele Muccino. Rated PG-13. Time 117 minutes.