Annie, whose own college years would seem to have been an idyll of partying pop-tartism, develops a plan to win the reluctant Jodi late admission to her alma mater that involves cozying up to an alcoholic admissions counselor named Spud who once had a crush on her. Neil, having read in Jodi’s frank essay that he has no friends, sets out to make one among the cubicles at work; this leads to the entrance into the family circle of a loser named Tucker who has heretofore looked to telephone solicitors for off-the-job companionship. The interactions among these five are funny and sad if increasingly far-fetched, with Amelia McClain’s adamant yet questioning Jodi developing a sincere if ineffectual plan to help the world, Monique Fowler’s sophisticated Annie taking to her bed (as well as to others’), and Neil, played by the expert Allyn Burrows with a mix of blandness and regret, trying to reassert control over his life by stun-gunning the “predators” wreaking havoc in the family garden — not to mention a few violators of the family in general. In the end, The Pursuit of Happiness arrives at a poignance it never even seemed to pursue.
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