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Seven Pounds -- not worth a movie ounce

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Seven Pounds

(PG-13)

N1/2 (out of 5)

December 19, 2008

Starring

Will Smith as Ben Thomas

Rosario Dawson as Emily Posa

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Woody Harrelson as Ezra Turner

Michael Ealy as Ben's brother

Barry Pepper as Dan

This past summer, box office pundits around the world had a collective orgasm over Will Smith's star power when "Hancock" became his eighth movie to reach $100 million at the box office. It was unanimously declared that he was a box office king, everyone liked him and he couldn't make a flop.

I, however, was critical of Smith. It's not that I don't like him as an actor. He's incredibly charismatic, and he is a great movie star. However, I pointed out that the reason he always made $100 million movies is because he makes safe choices on films that are bound to be blockbusters.

I like Will Smith as much as the next guy, but he's not bulletproof.

If anyone didn't agree with me this summer, they'll agree with me after seeing "Seven Pounds." While I respect Smith for taking a risk with his new film, I'll be the first to point out that this is a risk that didn't pan out.

The film tells the story of Ben Turner, an IRS agent who is searching for good people to help. He's trying to atone for his sins, and he's using his pull as an IRS agent to give various worthy souls a drastic change in their lives. However, he's got a secret, and when he starts to get too close to a struggling heart patient (Rosario Dawson), he finds it hard to keep his intentions under wraps.

Overall, "Seven Pounds" is a unique concept, and it's very well acted by all involved. I wouldn't expect any award notice for Will Smith or Rosario Dawson, but considering how annoyed I was at the film as a whole, these two managed to make it bearable.

This movie is directed by Gabriele Muccino, the guy who helmed "The Pursuit of Happyness." That film was decent, but it was a bit of a manipulative, weep-fest. But any problems that were to be found in "Happyness" are magnified 100-fold in this new movie.

The film stumbles into a crawl, and it comes to a screeching halt by the end. The running time, which only tops off at two hours, could have easily been thirty minutes shorter if only Muccino had trimmed out some of Will Smith's brooding moments or the obvious flashbacks that reveal the mystery way too early.

I don't like to be manipulated, but this film did just that. In fact, it pulled so many obvious strings that I was annoyed with it before I was actually emotionally engaged. The story is needlessly obtuse for as simple as it is, and it has an oh-so-clever reveal near the end, which was no surprise if you actually pieced together all the flashbacks in the movie.

Muccino lays on the melodrama so thick that I felt like I needed a shower by the end, and instead of shedding a tear, I couldn't wait to get out of the theater. The writing of the film's conclusion is so godawfully ridiculous that a movie like "Madagascar: Back to Africa" is more realistic. At this point, I'd believe a talking giraffe with a crush on a hippo before I believe the garbage that is spewed at the end of "Seven Pounds."

Like I said, I respect Will Smith for taking a chance. But this is one chance that he should have turned down. "Seven Pounds" proves the guy is capable of making a bad movie. The rest of the pundits just seemed to forget about "Wild Wild West" and "Men in Black II." Now we have this movie to remind us again.

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