10-26-2016  4:11 pm      •     
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Will Smith and Rosario Dawson won NAACP Image Awards for their performances as ill-fated lovers in this relentlessly-depressing tearjerker. Smith stars as a suicidal widower wracked with guilt over killing his wife in a car accident while fiddling with his Blackberry, and Dawson comes along later in the story as the new flame he's agonizing over getting involved with.

The picture plays like a variation of The Millionaire, if you're old enough to remember that classic TV series about a reclusive philanthropist who, with the help of his loyal manservant, Mr. Anthony, gave away a fortune each week to a needy stranger, anonymously. Here, we have a rocket scientist, Ben Thomas (Smith), passing himself off as an IRS agent to perform seven random acts of kindness as a sort of penance. He still plans to take his own life anyway, because he's eager to join his dearly-departed spouse in the great beyond.

The only reason this transparent film takes two hours instead of two minutes is that Ben goes to great lengths to make sure his beneficiaries are worthy of his blessing. Another fly in the ointment is the seemingly-inappropriate romance which unexpectedly blossoms between him and Emily (Dawson), the sexiest, terminal heart patient in the history of cinema.

Among the other charity cases are Ezra (Woody Harrelson), a blind telemarketer who keeps his cool when Ben berates him; Connie (Elpidia Camillo), a battered woman too afraid of her violent boyfriend's outbursts to leave or press charges; Nicholas (Quintin Kelley), a sickly kid in need of a bone marrow transplant; Holly (Judyann Elder), a social worker with cirrhosis of the liver, etcetera. You get the idea.

So, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how St. Ben will earn his angel's wings. Your job is just to sit there and be manipulated by a patience-testing production that drags on long enough to infuriate you well before its warm and fuzzy moments finally arrive.

Between the schmaltz and muzak, this surprisingly-superficial message movie amounts to little more than a feature-length public service announcement on the dangers of text-messaging while driving.

Fair (1 star)

PG-13 for mature themes, sensuality and disturbing content. 

In English and Spanish with subtitles.

Running time: 123 minutes

Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

DVD Extras: deleted scenes, director's commentary, plus several featurettes.

To see a trailer for Seven Pounds, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9nn0eKwxHY


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