Seven Pounds (2008)
Written by: Grant Nieporte
Directed by: Gabriele Muccino
This movie may seem like a weird addition to my Netflix queue. But anyone who remembers the marketing for “Seven Pounds” knows that this film was advertised as the next “Usual Suspects.” I remember seeing Will Smith doing interviews, coyly dodging questions about the plot of the movie or the meaning of the title. I mean, just look at the poster above. Sounds mysterious, right? What can I say? I was intrigued.
I figured out the entire plot of this movie in 9 minutes. Now I see that the reason the filmmakers wanted to shroud the film in mystery is that if they’d explained the real plot of the film, no one would have gone to see it. No one. This movie is so heavy-handed, so manipulative and so obviously reaching for ‘greatness,’ that the producers of “Pay It Forward” must have heaved a huge sigh of relief because they no longer made the most obnoxiously sappy movie in history.
Will Smith plays Ben Thomas, the most miserable character in the history of filmmaking. Maybe the most miserable character in the history of any art form. Hamlet could talk to this guy for five minutes and come out of the conversation wondering why he was such a drag. I won’t say why Ben is so miserable or why he’s doing such ‘mysterious’ things, not out of respect for the movie, but because it’s so laughable that you must find out on your own. I will say that Smith’s character is a serial benefactor. I don’t mean he’s a guy who’s addicted to being a benefactor. I mean he’s a benefactor who looks, acts and talks like a serial killer - except instead of killing people, he tries to make their lives better, one furrowed brow at a time.
Because the movie really has to be experienced, I won’t go into the plot. But I give the director Gabriele Muccino credit for giving the audience plenty of time to let it sink in. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, “Seven Pounds” is a 90 minute film squeezed into 2 hours. Note to the film’s editor: air isn’t just something you breathe.
There’s really not much else to say without spoiling the fun. If you’re looking for a way to put this film into context, imagine if Brett Ratner remade “21 Grams.” Then divide by 10. You’re getting close to how bad this movie is.
The only reason I’ve rated it as high as I have is that Will Smith and his co-stars, including Rosario Dawson and Woody Harrelson, actually do pretty well given the material they had to work with. This would be a great nightcap after a Friday night screening of “The Happening.” If only because it gives us Hollywood’s first super-serious use of the phrase “Don’t touch the jellyfish.”