celebrating people of color in the arts

“Seven Pounds” Too Heavy

In film on December 30, 2008 at 12:01 am

539w

Troy Jeffrey Allen of the Typographic Era desperately tries to find something nice to say about Will Smith’s latest, “Seven Pounds.” The best he could muster, “Smith doesn’t belong here” – in his own film that is. 

Will Smith is starting to become a deal breaker for me. Now don’t get me wrong…I like Smith. During the course of his charismatic career, he’s managed to surpass royal freshness and Hollywood stereotypes. However, like any marquee player, he also tends to force himself onto roles (Don’t believe me?  Check out   “I Am Legend,” “Ali,” and “I Robot” ).  His presence can weigh a movie down. Case in point, “Seven Pounds.” 

Smith plays IRS auditor Ben Thomas, who carries a secret. But what has compelled him to help out seven people less fortunate than himself? I’m willing to bet the frequent flashbacks of Smith kissing his wife and cars tumbling on winding roads have something to do with it.

It’s almost ridiculous how heavy handed this film gets at times. You’ve already had your fill of obscured details and heart-puppetry when Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) shows interest in Ben. She’s his newest acquisition to pay it forward. Emily has a cardiac problem, and just in case you didn’t get that the first time, so does her dog…and just in case you need another depressing reminder, she wears a charm bracelet of a heart on her wrist.

Director Gabrielle Muccino (who must not have seen “Crash,” “Babel,” or “21 Grams”) demands you to notice how serious “Seven Pounds” is. He wants you to believe every performance is award-worthy, especially Smith’s. Ironically, it’s Will Smith’s presence that burdens an already trying film. He doesn’t belong here. His acting consists of plenty of depressed, far-away looks cued by soft piano music. It’s such an unabashed call for attention that it almost washes away the pleasant feelings of “Pursuit of Happyness.” 

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