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Pretty Bad46.51%
Total Crap: 30.23%

4 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Seven Pounds
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by Erik Childress

"Shouldn't The Film Be Weighed In Courics?"
2 stars

If nothing else, the ad campaign for Will Smith’s latest, Seven Pounds, has been one of astounding success. A trailer of such mystery that it has people talking, even asking me what its about, despite being unable to decipher it myself. Sony executives even went to great lengths to initially keep many online writers away from early screenings. Never mind the fact that its one of the few films on their plate this year they were pushing for awards consideration (and yet no love for The House Bunny.) A theory was put forth here in Chicago that they were more worried hiding the film’s precious third act reveal than to make the film available to voting members of the Chicago Film Critics Association before their deadline even though no pattern of leaking or breaking embargoes from their non-print affiliates has ever been an issue. After finally seeing Seven Pounds at a last-minute screening setup for CFCA members, I have all the answers necessary to give Sony worry about leakage and save anxious viewers gas and ticket prices. But I’d rather open with a question. And that is: What is all the fuss about? And I follow that with: Why spend so much effort to conceal a film’s secrets when the film itself lets you know precisely what it’s up to within the first half-hour? If you’re paying attention, that is, which will certainly be easier during the first act, then its second and third.

I will now tread as carefully as possible in describing that first act.

Something in the past still haunts Ben Thomas (Will Smith), as he compares God’s feat of creating the Earth in seven days to the seven seconds that shattered his life forever. (Seven will indeed be playing the role of just a number here and not a leit motif.) Whatever happened to him, which will be not-so-carefully sprinkled throughout the film in flashback, it’s enough to have him put a plan in motion involving a room full of personal files and a note from the person who provided them that Ben not reveal where they came from. It involves using his IRS credentials to check on the status of elderly homes and harassing a frozen meats operator named Ezra (Woody Harrelson), even though his insults appear to fall on deaf ears. Appearances can be deceptive though since Ezra is blind.

Amongst Ben’s other stops along his mysterious route is a hospital where he sees Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson). More than just another name on his list, Emily is suffering from congenital heart issues and the self-conscious nonsense that she “used to be hot.” (I believe this condition is known as “dianelania”.) Ben begins to ingratiate himself into her life, first by going over tax figures with her and then telling her bedtime stories when she has another setback. As their relationship develops, Ben’s best friend, Dan (Barry Pepper), expresses his hesitance to fulfill on the promise to help with his plan (while also confessing a high school indiscretion against his bud) and Ben’s brother (Michael Ealy) constantly calls wondering about his well-being. What could he possibly be up to?

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure, although you may feel like you need one once it all plays out and may definitely need one if you're still in the dark going into the final hour. I know one person who got halfway there just from the title. The debut screenplay from Grant Nieporte, whose previous credits includes three combined episodes of TV’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch and 8 Simple Rules, maintains its mysterioso Pay It Forward-like mentality for the first few scenes, but once those restraints are obviously lifted (no later than Ben signing a particularly titled form) it is still under the impression that its hiding from us in an effort to hammer home a resolution that is absent of any poignancy whatsoever and would be laughed off an episode of ER. Nieporte and director GabrielePursuit Of The Correct Spelling Of HappynessMuccino don’t just open the door, but swing the door off its hinges towards a meaningful dissection on the lines between life and death and the limits of being a Good Samaritan in a world that doesn’t always deserve one. So busy is Seven Pounds in believing its keeping such a thinly veiled secret that it never recognizes how limited its messenger is as a character himself.

Ben may think he’s the solution, but he’s certainly part of the problem with the film. When we’re able to take a step back and consider his choices along the way, we’re able to see that he’s more at the service of a screenplay than a logical extension of some grand master plan. So let it be written. So shall it be done. Only he’s not acting upon the will of God, as in some Capraesque Outer Limits plot where the 21 grams of his soul is exchanged for what he leaves behind on Earth. Consider the opening phone call between Smith and Harrelson. Ben is determined to get a reaction out of this guy and acts completely clueless to Ezra’s impairment. (Obviously he should be acting like he doesn’t know, but the way the scene is staged and played by Smith it appears to us like he’s actually in the dark to knowledge he should be clearly aware of.) Now, it soon becomes clear that he’s searching for worthy recipients of this “gift” he’s peddling and if Ezra snaps he may lose the sweepstakes. But what does that prove? Could a good and decent person not react when someone insults them, especially so repeatedly and unprovoked? What does pushing someone to the brink of tolerance and tears prove? If Ezra were a 90 year-old grandmother would Ben condemn her to hell for calling him an asshole? And what reaction is Ben expecting to get from a telemarketer operator (whom he conveniently got on the phone in a room full of cubicles) who are trained to be calm and respectful in the face of the always right customer? So much thought put into his plan and not the faintest hint of any towards the implication of what any of it means.

Just waking up to write this review, I was somehow inspired with the remembrance of another film featuring Rosario Dawson and Barry Pepper; the latter of whom playing a best friend who gives pause to granting his BFF a final request before delivering the knockout blow (repeatedly.) That was Spike Lee’s 25th Hour. One really has nothing to do with the other except one being a great film about reconciling one’s affairs after almost unforgivable circumstances and the other being a bad film that wants to inspire you on your next trip to the DMV. The only thing Seven Pounds inspires is a potential new urban legend for generations to pass around. (Say, you ever hear the one about the jellyfish in the bathtub?) Poetically accompanied by one of the worst scores I’ve heard in some time (by Angelo Milli), Seven Pounds follows its lead by continually trying to bury its final note under another one and constantly sounding like the composer missing the beat over and over and over again.

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originally posted: 12/19/08 16:00:00
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User Comments

4/16/18 Joe Smaltz Gave up after an hr. Tired of waiting for a plot. 1 stars
7/29/11 Joel Fox Excellent fim. 5 stars
1/21/10 Stanley Thai A pretentious thriller where Will Smith plays an unsympathetic character. 2 stars
11/22/09 mr.mike Well worth seeeing - on cable. 4 stars
6/28/09 Joe Smaltz Good cinamatography, directing, acting, editing. Horseshit story, backasswards! 2 stars
4/28/09 Lana Good writing, very good photography, excellent acting; a good movie and worth seeing! 4 stars
1/30/09 Bert Kaplan a downright dud. 2 stars
1/28/09 Lucas Jack Somersby needs to watch this movie again since ihe did not understand most of themovie 5 stars
12/31/08 Luisa Great acting from Will Smith. Good story. 4 stars
12/30/08 sweetgrrl1972 One of the most tense and depressing movies of all time 2 stars
12/28/08 Samantha Pruitt why ids everyone hating on this movie? Smith and Dawson are great. 4 stars
12/27/08 Yolanda I liked the movie. Smith and Dawson were great! 4 stars
12/24/08 Eric I disagree - my two friends and I figured this movie out in first 15 mins. Made it more sad 4 stars
12/23/08 Kork Klogz Wow, what a stunning performance by Rosario Dawson. Luv'd her, hated the movie! 4 stars
12/22/08 jackson elles pretentious, confusing, and frustrating 2 stars
12/20/08 michele Rosario Dawson steals the show,worth watching just to see her on film,the carmera loves her 4 stars
12/20/08 Syl Mac The movie was an hour and 50 mins tooo long! It was very predictable and tooo slow. 2 stars
12/20/08 Gary It was very depressing 2 stars
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  19-Dec-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 31-Mar-2009


  DVD: 31-Mar-2009

Directed by
  Gabriele Muccino

Written by
  Grant Nieporte

  Will Smith
  Rosario Dawson
  Woody Harrelson

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