starring Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy
screenplay by Grant Nieporte
directed by Gabriele Muccino
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. I'm gonna take a stab at the title: Seven pounds is how much an Oscar weighs, am I right? Will Smith reunites with his Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino to fashion another awards-season failure that proves every bit as icky and misguided. An extended episode of "Secret Millionaire", Seven Pounds transforms a Melvin and Howard conceit into the story of an undercover Samaritan intent on changing the lives of seven worthy strangers. Why? It doesn't really matter, does it? Not when Smith, as Ben Thomas, a guilt-wracked IRS agent/aerospace engineer trying to atone for the tragedy that is his life, turns on the red-rims and the waterworks, all quivery lips like the box jellyfish Ben keeps as a pet. There's poor little Emily (Rosario Dawson), with a rare blood type and an enlarged heart (four sizes too big!); and poor little Ezra (Woody Harrelson), who can't get a second look from a truck-stop waitress because, eww, he's blind!; and poor Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo), who's afraid to leave her abusive boyfriend even though her two small children are in peril. Enter Bagger Vance--er, Ben Thomas--to sweep Emily off her feet, insult Ezra to see if he has a temper (or a spine), and give Connie his house. Throughout, we're treated to flashes of the calamity that's brought Ben so low as Smith's charisma and innate likeability remain the only things keeping the film remotely compelling to the extent that it is. It's an old-timey melodrama at its heart, nothing on its mind except tugging at the heartstrings and bothering awards-season viewers with the irritating tickle that they're being diddled without their consent by another smooth-talking, empty-headed bit of unforgivable--and gross--treacle.