Friday, April 24, 2009

Health Warning: Watch SEVEN POUNDS and you may want to order your own jellyfish

It takes a lot -- a whole lot -- of poorly-presented schlock to get TrustMovies to go after a film with the cold-hearted, take-no-prisoners tenacity of a Freddy Krueger. The Gabrielle Muccino (shown, left)/Grant Nieport/Will Smith concoction SEVEN POUNDS is that schlock -- in spades. It has been a long while since I have had to sit through a film with so little to say that took this long to say it: two hours and three minutes. A lot of Mr. Smith's movies are too long (Enemy of the State, Bad

Boys 2, Bagger Vance, Independence Day, and on and on), but some of them offer other reasons to watch.

Initially, Seven Pounds (which made its DVDebut last week) appears to be some sort of mystery, and this may keep you interested -- for a time. Slowly, however, all the tiresome dawdling that director Muccino (shown top, left) and writer Nieport cook up drains the film of its inherent interest. Further, Nieport's absolutely dismal sense of dialog neither captures the way real people talk nor gives us a trace of wit or cleverness.

The Dane, right, clearly sees something
more interesting than either Smith or Dawson.

Most of the give-and-take between the movie's characters is rote and boring, never more so than when the "romantic" leads Smith and Rosario Dawson are getting/not getting and then getting/not getting together. You'd be hard put to find more attractive, sexier stars than Ms Dawson (below, looking particularly gorgeous) and Mr Smith, so why not give them something interesting to say or do. But no: "Just give them a Great Dane," someone must have suggested. They did -- and let it go at that.

Seven Pounds is the kind of manipulative, manufactured tale that desperately needs style and pacing to carry its audience along. Muccino seemed capable of this, back in his early Italian days (But Forever in My Mind and The Last Kiss). Since then -- Remember Me, My Love; The Pursuit of Happyness; and now this catastrophe -- his hand has grown heavier and his films less interesting. At every point along the way, from the printing press to the flashbacks of better days, you just know that every acorn planted will spring into full bloom by the finale -- and strangle you in its branches.

Woody Harrelson, left, with Smith: The eyes have it.

What's particularly odd and galling is that, had the entire movie -- including each and every plot point -- been handled with grace, charm, wit and particularly speed, a small gem might have resulted, rather than the bloated, plodding junkpile we have here. If you're going to manipulate your audience (see Shall We Kiss, for example), then do it with style! If you've already viewed Seven Pounds, I expect my headline will resonate. If not, and you insist on barging ahead until this "toxic asset" has rendered you depressed and brain-dead, just remember: Pick up your phone and dial 1-800-JELLYFISH.


Anonymous said...

You obvioiusly totally missed everything wonderful about this movie. There is no point in debating it but I suggest that you fill up the last 1/2 of your glass and live life.

James van Maanen, said...

Hey, Anonymous (which already puts you, in my book, into the second-class range: if I can go on record with my identity, why can't you?)--
SEVEN POUNDS is such a crappy movie that it drained whatever was in my glass in the first place! I have managed to refill it via a bunch of other, better movies, however. And I hope that you will someday grow up enough to do the same. Here's to you!