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March 15, 2007 |

By Daniel Carlson | Industry | March 15, 2007 |

I saw The Pursuit of Happyness under the only condition that would allow me to view the film without hating myself: I snuck in. I haven’t theater-hopped in years, since 1) I’m nowhere near financially secure, but I can afford a movie ticket, and 2) what’s thrilling when you’re 14 and a fun diversion when you’re 20 becomes a whole lot less enjoyable when you’re just grinding out the rent money everyday like a million other cubicle farmers. And really, unless you’re with a group of slightly inebriated college classmates, where’s the fun? But The Pursuit of Happyness looked to be manipulative and predictable, which it was, and on top of that it was also singularly blind to the fact that main character Chris Gardner, played with Very Special Episode of “Fresh Prince” gravitas by Will Smith, had no real dream or goal or ambition in his life other than being rich. Nothing like a movie that enforces the improbability of attaining the American dream. I was glad that I saw the movie for free, having paid to see The Queen and then wandered to the next theater once Stephen Frears’ film ended. The Pursuit of Happyness was cute, but phony. Which means one thing: sequel (kinda.) Yes, it was announced this week that Columbia Pictures is reteaming with Smith for Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, From Cocaine to Foie Gras, based on the memoir of pusher-turned-chef Jeff Henderson. Chef Jeff got busted for dealing rocks, and while in prison learned how to be a gourmet chef, eventually winding up at the CafĂ© Bellagio in Las Vegas. Now, Sin City’s hiring practices aside, the film looks tailor-made to offer Smith another chance to play a black man beaten by the system who winds up conquering it, and it will likely land Smith another Oscar nomination. But if he wants the Academy hardware that badly, he needs to do a biopic like Forest Whitaker. Everybody knows the real money’s in genocide.

Speaking of torture-porn (OK, I’m bad at segues): Rider Strong, best known as the sensitive “bad boy” from the generation-defining “Boy Meets World” will be appearing in Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, and no, that’s not a fake title. The original Cabin Fever, you may recall, was the misogynistic Eli Roth’s film debut, a low-budget gorefest so inspiring that none other than hamfisted hackmeister Peter Jackson lent his name to a blurb for the film’s ads. I could’ve sworn Strong died in the first one, but apparently the sequel will find him alive and well, which is probably when things will start to come really unglued. Roth isn’t helming the sequel; that honor falls to Ti West, whose filmography reflects a saddening but not all that surprising lack of any real track record or talent when it comes to filmmaking. Here’s hoping he spices things up by having Topanga cameo.

I’ll leave you with the teaser for Danny Boyle’s new film, the high-concept sci-fi flick Sunshine. Not to be confused with the multigenerational European familial drama from Istvan Szabo (though that’s also worth your time), Boyle’s film deals with a group of scientists who set out to reignite our dying sun and encounter what appear to be the same kind of reality-altering space entities that have been screwing with interstellar explorers since Dave Bowman flew right into the monolith. Regardless of how the story turns out, the execution is mighty stylish:

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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