Will Smith is the biggest movie star in the world. He can make just about anything he wants to. And therein lies the rub. His new movie, "Seven Pounds," coming after "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "I Am Legend," seems like the third in a trilogy of inspirational bummers.
If anybody but Smith was starring in this lugubrious claptrap it would be close to unwatchable. Even with him around, it's a long sit. He plays Ben Thomas, a woebegone widower who sets out to radically improve the lives of seven strangers. Since the reason for his mission is revealed incrementally, I will not spoil the show here, except to say that organ donor societies might want to use this movie for a fundraiser. Or not. As high concepts go, "Seven Pounds" is distasteful in the extreme.
Movie stars often become so powerful that they lose all perspective when it comes to choosing appropriate projects. (Remember Bill Murray in "The Razor's Edge"?) You can't fault an actor for stretching, but in "Seven Pounds" Smith is in full messianic mode, and it drags him down. He also drags everybody else down with him. Rosario Dawson, in particular, playing a gravely ill woman romanced by Ben, looks mightily uncomfortable. One actor, Elpidia Carrillo, breaks through the heavy-duty haze of inspirationalism. As a terrorized single mother, Carrillo jump-starts the movie during her brief screen time. Unlike the other cast members, she doesn't seem to be playing a stick figure in a morality play. Grade: C-. (Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some disturbing content, and a scene of sensuality.)