Pat Young

SEVEN POUNDS: Apparently not content with assaulting multiplexes with bad movies during the Fourth of July weekend (HANCOCK; I, ROBOT), Will Smith continues his expansion into now wrecking the Christmas season which began with last December’s I AM LEGEND (2007). In this film, Smith is a mysteriously enigmatic figure with seemingly unlimited financial resources who nevertheless drives a junky-looking car in search of “deserving” people whose lives need a turn for the better. All of the early scenes are done in short bursts so as to leave pieces of a narrative puzzle for the audience to put together to try to figure out who the main character is and why he’s doing all of these good deeds. For a while these sequences work until they become more extended and have all the pacing of watching chrome bumpers rust. Subplots about a blind telephone operator (Woody Harrelson) and an abused single mother (Elpidia Carrillo) are never fully developed and are subverted by the primary storyline of Smith’s romantic attraction with a heart transplant candidate played by Rosario Dawson, whose presence in any movie generally foreshadows its mediocrity. (See sidebar below.) The concluding revelation is fairly predictable to anybody paying attention and when it does happen you realize that what you’ve seen is little more than a pitch for organ donation. Since it follows one of the most disturbing suicide scenes I’ve seen in a while, even this proverbial call to action is totally miscommunicated. But what I loathed about it the most was its manipulative sentimentality that was completely inappropriate for the undeserved emotions that it shamelessly tries to wring from its audience. I put it on the same level with equally dumb, “do gooder” flicks like PAY IT FORWARD (2000), making it easily one of the worst movies I saw in 2008.

10 REASONS TO AVOID ANY MOVIE STARRING ROSARIO DAWSON (in chronological order); DOWN TO YOU (2000), JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (2000), CHELSEA WALLS (2001), MEN IN BLACK 2 (2002), ASH WEDNESDAY (2002), THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH (2002), ALEXANDER (2004), RENT (2005), THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005), CLERKS 2 (2006)