The pursuit of sappyness – Seven Pounds review

Seven Pounds – Starring Will Smith, Rosario Dawson and Woody Harrelson. Directed by Gabriele Muccino. Rated M for mature themes. 123 mins.

I’ve never seen such a bad film so well made. Seven Pounds tries to trick you into thinking you just saw a powerful work of art. It wants you to weep, and grab onto someone you love, and exclaim outside the cinema how “it’s the best movie since Crash!” I’ve got to admit, for a moment, it almost had me. But Seven Pounds doesn’t deserve the affection it so badly craves. It’s manipulative, tedious, patronising and shallow, but director Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness) knows how to make it look pretty. Italian charm aside, that’s not enough.

Will Smith stars as Ben Thomas, an IRS agent with a pet jellyfish (a plot point that is, sadly, quite significant). Ben has a very mysterious mission that is so mysterious he wouldn’t dare share his mysterious mystery with anyone. Mysterious, huh? Muccino must imagine his audience turning to each other throughout the film and asking “Oh my, what could this guy possibly be planning?” The problem is, however, this ‘mysterious plan’ is so glaringly obvious, that even Woody Harrellson’s blind piano player can see right through it.

Oh sorry. Had I not already mentioned that Harrelson was in this film? I guess I’m no better than the screenplay; randomly introducing elements whenever it serves the plot, and sometimes not even then. The problem with Seven Pounds is that it hinges completely on a last minute reveal that is neither unexpected nor interesting. Other films have survived unspectacular dénouement’s, but Seven Pounds has nothing BUT conclusion. Ben Thomas has a clear mission in mind, and he won’t be swayed.

Smith is working hard. Too hard in fact. His character is drowning in guilt and Smith wants you to know it. He’s so determined for us to see Ben as a pious martyr, that he may as well have climbed onto the cross himself and shouted for someone to pass him the nails and hammer. Thank God Smith is as likable as he is, or Ben Thomas could have been one of the most awful, self-righteous characters in film history. In fact, if he and Rosario Dawson didn’t have any chemistry the film would have almost nothing going for it.

Oh right, Rosario Dawson is in this too. Surprise! I suppose I better get back to the story in case I give away too much too early! Harrelson stars as Ezra, a blind call center operator by day and a blind piano player by night (because all Blind People play the piano in these films). Ben calls Ezra at work and begins to mock his disability, for no apparent reason. Or maybe that’s part of the mystery. Later on Ben visits a woman called Emily (Dawson) who hasn’t been paying her hospital bills. She has a weak heart. Of course, he falls in love with her.

On and on and on it goes. There are flashbacks to another time in Ben’s life, when he had a better job and a wife. In the present, he visits various needy people and evaluates whether or not they are naughty or nice, like some sort of creepy Santa. On and on until its inevitable, inexplicable end. And it is an inexplicable end. The entire final 20 minutes is committee-approved schmaltz, including all the elements required to bring its audience to tears, such as children singing, suicide, surgery and a jellyfish. I told you the jellyfish would be important. Seven Pounds commits the two greatest sins in cinema: 1) it talks down to its audience and 2) it’s boring as hell. Ben Thomas is atoning for something – could it be for the film itself?


Check the trailer out here

27 Responses to “The pursuit of sappyness – Seven Pounds review”

  1. Oh Dear and i have tickets to see it tonite!!

  2. Excellent, articulate, accurate review! This movie is full of holes and is so badly written I wanted to laugh. Or barf.

  3. Uh oh, we even went for Gold Class tickets on this one 😦

  4. Gold Class – hey that’s a good thing. At least now you can order a drink to help you get through it.

  5. Girls..don’t take any notice of this barbaric will cry and laugh during this wife loved much for self appointed critics..Boys..give it a miss..or be happy for her together..

  6. I first saw the trailer and I thought to myself that it looks just too similar to previous Will Smith movies. Not very specific elements of the plot, but the overall plot.The next three points could describe something that happens in the movie (all I have seen is the trailer and read this review). – Will Smith is a person looking for something in life. A sad character that barely has anything to live for any more. – Either is married or was married, and has lost his wife or does during the film. – At the end of the film, finds something to live for, or do in life.Personally, if that is what it is, then it is cliché. Really, it seems very similar to Pursuit of Happyness (which I only saw because I had to) and I Am Legend, and possibly even Hancock. What makes this consistent, very similar plot outline worse is that it is the same actor each time. Will Smith can be a good actor at times, but the movies he is in are almost the same each time it appears. He could go for come variety, and not just push forth a very similar message each time he appears in a movie.Again, I haven’t seen the movie, only the trailer and read this review, but after seeing the trailer, I would definitely agree that it only deserves 1.5/5 stars, if that.

  7. how wrong you are joshendo.. this movie totally watchable. f*ck you quickflix

  8. quickfix you are bloody harsh, you need your balls chopped off or if your a girl your tits popped.give the film a go, I love will smith and dont forget…..they are rich…you arent…lol

  9. Well I didn’t really enjoy the pursuit of happyness all that much either so if this is a weaker, shittier version of that then I’ll just give it a miss altogether.

  10. @Chris: As I made clear in the comments, I have only seen the trailer and read this review, so if my opinion of it is “incorrect”, it was caused by this review and what I saw the trailer as. Personally, my opinion of it so far from a person who has not seen it in full is that it is a cliché movie.As I want to point out, I have not seen this. I may see it later (possibly when it comes out on DVD, as I don’t go to the cinema that often), and my opinion of it may change dramatically after I see it. It is fine to have an opinion on a movie from just a trailer and a review (as a trailer is designed to give you an opinion). Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As I said, my opinion may be chanced when I see the movie.@Anonymous: Will Smith is a great actor. He was great in i,Robot for example, as well as others. I said above (quoted) “Will Smith can be a good actor at times”, by that I was generally referring to the character and movie he was in. He can even be a good actor in a bad movie, but it doesn’t make him great every single movie he is in.

  11. Hey guys,We appreciate your comments, but bear in mind that reviews are purely the opinion of the person writing them. We don’t necessarily ask you to agreee with them, we just write them and let you judge them on your own. If you historically agree with Simon’s reviews then you should listen, if you mostly disagree, then chances are, you might enjoy this movie. Please remember that before posting abuse aimed at people just exercising their right to an opinion.

  12. You guys are all too harsh! I’ve seen Seven Pounds and i thought it was a terrible, overacted and over-hyped excuse for a movie.I wouldn’t let my dog watch this…and hes blind!

  13. My balls chopped off? Wow.And I thought Twilight fans were passionate.

  14. I think you expected the wrong thing from this movie. Of course it was obvious that I feel was the point. It drags you along on an obvious but sad journey that unless you lack empathy drags you in as well. Sure this is definitely a flick that is better for the average gal not the average guy. But if you love watching stories with a little heart then I say take your partner and see it. If your after suspense and shock, don’t bother.Its already up there in my top set of movies. What a close minded, single track review.

  15. Hey CoopsThanks for the comment. I can definitely understand the passion coming from fans of this film. And I can appreciate the whole doomed romance aspect, as in, the sadness comes from KNOWING how it’s going to end.But, argh, you know, I just can’t get on board with this film (even after being threatened with bodily harm!) I’m sorry you saw my review as close minded and single track.I honestly feel though that this movie is not organic – it doesn’t deserve the outpouring of emotion it asks (and I assume, receives) from its audience. The whole screenplay feels as if it has been specially designed to make the audience cry – I personally don’t like to be manipulated like that.And hey, when the mood strikes me, I’ve been known to cry in my fair share of movies i.e. WALL-E, on two seperate viewings! But that movie deserved it, because it felt natural.So while I’m glad you personally enjoyed the film, I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. But I do appreciate the intelligent response, which will always be more effective than physical threats (on my balls or otherwise).Thanks for reading!

  16. I noticed the person that reviewed this movie forgot to attached their name to it :)Whoever reviewed it should be sacked bigtime.This movie is brilliant.If you have a heart, unlike the reviewer, you will find it one of the most emotional movies of your lifetime.Cheeseburger x

  17. Uhh, my name is Simon Miraudo. It’s at the bottom of the review.

  18. Simon ‘The No Heart’ !!!Your as bad as that guy that reviews in the West Australian newspaper.I remember he reviewed a movie and said it was the Movie of the Year.Took my girlfriend at the time to see it, we walked out about half way through. After that I never read reviews and comments by anyone before I go to see a movie. Everyone has different taste and likes.I believe you should only review a movie on what the plot is and not what your personal feelings are on the movie.

  19. wow your harsh Earlie. I agree – everyone has different tastes and likes. That’s why it’s fine for you to like Seven Pounds, and fine for me to hate it.As for wanting reviews with no personal opinion – those would be like, the most boring reviews ever. Imagine a world where people can’t discuss whether or not they like or hate movies/music/art/anything. That would suck – just like Seven Pounds.

  20. Well bring on WALL-E 2 hahahahaor maybe E.T Returns hahahahaSo you can out pour your emotionsover non fictional little characters.Think you need to get out more Simon 🙂 Enjoy

  21. …by the way, one reader suggested that you need you balls chopped off :)but somehow by reading your reviews, that they haven’t dropped as yet.Are you 18 yet? or you just filling in time whilst your on school holidays?

  22. Some interesting opinions here!I personally think Simons review is totally on the money and check out Rotten Tomatoes for some very similar reviews and ratings, seems many people share his opinion. I know I do.

  23. This film was brilliant. The story line is outstanding and the direction and delivery is Oscar worthy from all the actors. Will Smith, Woody Harrelson and Rosario Dawson play characters who are just stunningly beautiful, complex characters who draw you in, melt your hearts and stir your soul. Dramatic? Yes… but the film is stunning! Well done… 2009 is excited.posted by WODERLONDON on Jan 03, 2009 I loved it!posted by T on Jan 02, 2009This was a BEAUTIFUL movie! Will Smith did an amazing job. It was extremely sad but beautiful movie. I loved it.posted by M on Jan 02, 2009This was a BEAUTIFUL movie! Will Smith did an amazing job. It was extremely sad but beautiful movie. I loved it.posted by M on Jan 02, 2009 I agree with those who said that if you never truly loved someone, you will not understand this movie. I too predicted the ending , but it left me wondering if he was actually going to go through with it. I recommend this movie to anyone with a soul and who loves someone more than themselves. i plan to buy this movie as soon as it comes out on dvd. Truly beautiful…posted by babiblueyes712 on Dec 31, 2008Very profound. Makes you think about it and want to see it again.posted by nncen on Dec 31, 2008Will smith was fantastic once again any bad reviews of smiths performance is from people that dont like smith no matter what he does . I love the layout kept you wanting moreposted by andy torr on Dec 30, 2008 Wonderful movie! I watched it twice, but it is amazing how the second time, I noticed so many other interesting details I had not seen the first time I had seen it and was able to understand the movie even more. I am also planning on seeing it a third time with some friends who haven’t seen it yet. It’s a great movie in that it makes you think. Whether you agree with it or not, it provokes very deep thoughts and emotions, and in my opinion, if a movie can do that these days, then it is deserving of praise.posted by Kouki on Dec 29, 2008agree an excellent movie , you must not look down on it because of it’s plot or actors .I condemn the actors who say that it is absurd , laughable or simplistic. A very good drama that i recommend i’ve been awaiting for a similar movie after i’ve seen Pursuit Of Happinnessposted by liviu on Dec 27, 2008This is one of the best movies that I’ve seen in a long time. I think that anyone who has truly loved anyone would be touched by this movie. WIll Smith really captured the longing and torment of the character,and I found myself in tears the whole movie. I enjoyed watching a movie that inspired me and left me thinking long after it was over. I would recommend it!posted by LJ on Dec 26, 2008I just finished watching it, and I do agree the end was predictable, but in entirety, it was an excellent movie. So what if the plot wasn’t too complex, so what if it was depressing? I don’t know why critics have received it this badly. It teaches a very important lesson, i.e., every sin can be redeemed. What really matters is, whether or not you’re ready to do that.posted by R.P on Dec 26, 2008This was one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. The ultimate redemtion for something we all do everyday. And to all those who are hating on the film I say, “You must have never truly loved or cared for humanity in a way that would allow you to love and appreciate this film in its entirety.” Yes, I too predicted the films end from the beginning, but it still did not change how moved I was by the outcome I knew was coming. I loved it.posted by kat on Dec 23, 2008i thought that this was overall a good movie… from reviews i see this movie is cut short for what it actually is. I on the other hand think it was a very good film and franky the plot was kinda sad too.. i mean you dont want him to die in the end but you know that he is going to..which jsut adds to it.posted by aviator 101 on Dec 23, 2008

  24. Oh well, I guess it would be dull if we all shared the same opinion.

  25. Cheers for the follow up Simon. .. too bad people cannot accept a difference of opinion. ..maybe it was a bit manipulative but what movie isn’t. .. its quite emotional either way, maybe its a mood movie also. ..sadly I still haven’t picked up Wall-E, PiXAR lost me somewhere along the way but I still enjoy their films. ..Take Care. ..PS. If you ever want to make any movie look good, pick up ‘Going Overboard (1989)’ – Adam Sandler. .. I watched this once after a mate found a review that gave it -49/10 (yes that is minus 49)

  26. I agree with Simon, this was the most depressing movie I've ever seen.

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