December 25, 2008

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Seven Pounds (PG-13)
Will Smith is gloriously pained and guilt-ridden in the nonsensical but pretty-looking Seven Pounds.

Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is the fairy tale version of the I.R.S. agent you get when you’re audited — he’s handsome, he shows up in a well-fitting suit and he seems to care as much about how good you are as he does about how behind on your taxes you are. Despite his constantly pained looks and his vaguely stalker-ish way of investigating the tax delinquents, he’s such a Dream Date that when the ailing Emily (Rosario Dawson) meets him, she doesn’t wait too long to make a very friendly pass at him.

But Ben’s not interested in a girlfriend. He’s on a mission, he wants to help people. He has a plan that he must slowly unravel over two hours of movie via cryptic comments, flashbacks and seemingly non sequitur scenes checking up onand checking in with various people who may or may not also be mid-audit.

The trailer and the official plot descriptions for Seven Pounds are vague and mysterious about the exact nature of the plot. While the movie is able to deliver on some of the vagueness, the mystery goes out the window fairly quickly. You could likely guess what Ben’s up to and why by about the 45-minute point and probably sooner. This means that you have more than an hour of teasing partial reveals and pieced-together explanations to sit through before you get to the conclusion that you know is coming. It is, at times, agonizing to pretend you’re surprised as the glacially paced movie voilas something you guessed at some 40 minutes back.

Which leaves you with scenes like the one where Emily and Ben are enjoying an idyllic afternoon together in the tall, gently blowing wheat. They look lovely there, it is a dream-like shot. But why? Why make us crawl through their get-to-know-you period when we already know the unknown thing? Smith and Dawson are likewise charming, even ginning up a bit of decent chemistry. But the movie gives them nothing but confusing irrelevant scenes and weak, ridiculous dialogue. At its heart is a plot that would be better used on a TV show — this would make for a pretty decent Law & Order or House but as a movie it’s almost unendurably self-important and absurd.

Seven Pounds is the lamest possible movie, made very well. It is like listening to a technically perfect but endlessly long drum solo to a song you hate. D+

Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some disturbing content and a scene of sensuality. Directed by Gabriele Muccino and written by Grant Nieporte, Seven Pounds is two hours and three minutes long and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.