Seven Pounds

Remember the days when Will Smith was our most electric and charismatic movie star? If you still do, then you apparently haven't been watching the guy's movies lately. I'm not sure what happened to Smith in the last three years. Perhaps he has had one too many auditing sessions with Scientologist/actor Tom Cruise. Maybe Jada Pinkett bit his dick off. I don't know ... but something ain't right in Big Willie-ville. In 2006, Smith went for an Oscar with the vomitoriously sentimental THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, a film that should come with a free vial of insulin. He followed that up with I AM LEGEND, in which he played a brave man who sulks around alone and sad with his dog. And now, just in time for Oscar consideration, is Smith as the saddest man in the whole wide world in the revolting SEVEN POUNDS. In SEVEN POUNDS, Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent with a tragic past. Years earlier, he caused a car accident that killed people, including his lovely bride. He has spent the subsequent years in perpetual mourning, hunched over and sheepish. Then, he decides to do some good for other people to help make his own life worthwhile. But it can't be just anyone; the recipients of his good fortune must pass tests in order to demonstrate their worth. In the process, he meets Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a struggling heart patient ... and they fall in love. First of all, let me warn you: SEVEN POUNDS is a trick film in the same vein as THE SIXTH SENSE. Throughout much of the running time, Smith's Ben is consorting with certain people in serious tones, as if some great plan is at work. During his interrogations with the seven worthy objects of his generosity, it's clear that the film is working toward some sort of major revelation at the climax. Unlike THE SIXTH SENSE, however, the strings are clearly visible throughout, making the conclusion less shocking and more infuriating. It doesn't help matters at all that the film is so dour and limp; it's like watching rain fill up a cadaver's mouth on an overcast day. Absolutely NOTHING in this film feels warm or alive. It just sits there, droning on while tinkling, "serious" piano music wanders on the soundtrack. Credit this unappealing mood to director Gabriele Muccino, who here reteams with HAPPYNESS star Smith in order to depress anyone who managed to survive their last effort together. The one saving grace is Dawson, who manages to almost resemble a human being rather than an oil painting of sadness and despair like everyone around her. Dawson is a gifted presence, naturally warm and inviting ... even here. It's unfortunate that her role is so poorly written; her character as written comes off like a lost angel that just alighted upon the planet Earth rather than a flesh and blood creation. Dawson does imbue Emily and the film with a much-needed range of human emotion; unfortunately, her efforts are akin to a flickering candle burning inside of a crevasse in the least habitable zip code of Antarctica. As for Smith, his super-serious turn here sends out distress calls for the man's once-formidable talent. Every fucking hung-dog stare from the guy made me want to get my gun; while watching, I was constantly surprised that they didn't digitally droop Will's famous jug ears for extra sadness. I realize that they are trying to make an emotionally devastating drama, but this movie makes you feel like you're being covered in blankets drenched with a dead hobo's cold cum. In other words, it's not particularly enjoyable. I can certainly appreciate an emotional drama, and I love twist films when they're done correctly. But this pathetic piece of Oscar bait tries to trick us emotionally for a "powerful" pay off, and it's offensive beyond belief. It's time for Smith to get off his high horse and lighten up a bit. Clint Eastwood didn't start earning Oscars until he was in his sixties, and Tom Hanks had to wait until his late thirties. Just make what you're good at, Will ... sooner or later, the Academy will reward you just for being who you are. They certainly aren't going to give Smith one when he takes a SEVEN POUND shit.

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All you need to know is that I love movies and baseball. I write about both on a temporary medium known as the Internet. Twitter: @rayderousse or @unfilteredlens1 Go St. Louis Cardinals!