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Seven Pounds

Overly earnest melodrama about redemption is a misfire

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Will Smith tries hard -- bless his heart -- but his innate likability and earnest dedication to looking deeply miserable here can't raise this film from its maudlin doldrums or plot holes. Smith portrays a Los Angeles IRS agent seeking personal redemption through an extreme pay-it-forward scheme that dramatically changes the lives of seven strangers, including a young woman (Rosario Dawson) with whom he makes a love connection. Simply having good intentions -- this film is inspirational times seven -- doesn't excuse director Gabriele Muccino from piling on the plot contrivances, taking laughably bad emotional short-cuts and delivering -- in total seriousness -- one of the most ludicrous death scenes ever. In the indie version I was idly re-writing in my head while watching, it's Smith and Dawson alone who build a bittersweet relationship based on shared suffering, with not a single overly fabulous beach house or dramatic rainstorm in sight. But in this pure Hollywood film about life, death and life after death, nuance is the first casualty. However, if you're a fan of the other-sort-of-disaster movie -- those toxic enough to take down a well-meaning A-list star -- Seven Pounds is the season's most unintentionally head-smacking film.

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