Friday, December 26, 2008

Movie Review: "Seven Pounds"

What is it?: A holiday feelgood movie that doesn't make you feel good.
What's with the title?: Dunno. Possibly the cumulative weight of various internal organs.
Summary: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, schmaltzy music, yadda yadda yadda. It's Magnificent Obsession crossed with Pay it Forward. Pretty awful.

This movie suffers from many things. Poor script, derivative plot, nondescript characters, a few implausiblities. But what killed it is a device that I have despised for many years: The Dead Wife. Everytime I see it used, I imagine something like this exchange between the screenwriters:

Writer 1: "Y'know, I just don't have time to give this script justice. The characters are undeveloped, the plot is full of holes. This guy...he's a self-absorbed douche. I mean, how could any moviegoer possibly relate to him in any way?"
Writer 2: "Just throw in a Dead Wife. Works every time. People will be so busy crying, they won't notice the dodgy ending we've got for this thing."
Writer 3: "Done. Let's play some golf."

Other movies that have fallen prey to Dead Wife Syndrome: Photographing Fairies, The Mothman Prophecies, Good Will Hunting.

The Dead Wife worked in The Prestige for a very special reason: A Dead Wife was not the character's primary motivation. Any need to avenge his wife's death was quickly overtaken by ego, stubborness, and greed. That's how you do it.

11 comments:

Wandering Coyote said...

You know, I'm just not a huge Will Smith fan to begin with so when I saw all the advertising for this movie on TV I was turned off before I could even get curious about it.

Captain Karen said...

I wish Will Smith would stick to action movies. The previews for this film confused me and I had no desire to see it although the Admiral was very curious. Thank goodness I convinced her to see Quantum of Solace instead... I'll be skipping this.

SME said...

I WISH I had been able to talk Richard out of this one. I had a baaaad feeling about it.

Ah well, I get to pick the next movie. I'm waffling between The Reader and Doubt.

Wandering Coyote said...

Both of those look good. I read The Reader and it was a good book.

SME said...

I'm leaning towards that one. It's been a long time since I've seen Winslet.

greatwhitebear said...

the title refers to Shylocks demand for a "pound of flesh" in Shakespear's "Merchant Of Venice" In this case, seven pounds to atone for the seven deaths he caused.

I thought the movie was excellent. A story of the redemptive power of love. And all three of the main characters (Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, and Woody Harrelson) gave terrific perfomances. And I got all teary eyed when Emily (Dawson) and Ezra (Harrelson) meet at the end of the movie!

It must have been a feel good movie, because both my date and I went home feeling good. And several people have seen it on my recommendation, and were really impressed with it.

sigh.. it must be that famous Canadian cynicism has rubbed off on you!

Helene said...

huh-oh, what a shame, I was looking forward to watching that film, now I think I will abstain. Mind you with the baby around the corner I think movies will be miles away from my mind.

I did like the Prestige, it was a strong story, it was so surprising that I still think of this movie out of the blue and we watched it almost two years ago.

SME said...

Hmm. I'm not sure about the 7 pounds-Shylock connection. I thought of that, but who would do it? You'd risk offending...well, everybody.

The performances were fine. I like Smith and Dawson quite a lot, actually. There must just be something wrong with me, though...I mean, every Canadian in the audience was sniffling. Mind you, I don't like "It's a Wonderful Life", either. That kid starts yammering about angels and I just wanna scream.

Maybe I'm just a bastard. But in my own defense, I do like "Meet John Doe" and "Steel Magnolias". I'm not a hopeless case, yet. ;)

greatwhitebear said...

gotta agree with ya on "it's a wonderful life". by far Jimmy Stewart's worst movie.

the real question is, did you get all teary eyed at "The Notebook". If so, there's still hope!

tshsmom said...

I'm going with Mark on this one. We took the movie quiz on Facebook and he's the one who's most compatible with me. ;)

Mark, yeah, she gets teary-eyed with The Notebook.

SME said...

Finally, someone else who doesn't like It's a Wonderful Life!! I was starting to feel like a mutant! ;D

I totally teared up at The Notebook (oddly, that was another of Richard's picks). I wanted to get it for my grandparents for Christmas that year 'cause it reminded me so much of them, but Mom beat me to it. :P