How Bad Is Seven Pounds’ Ending, Anyway?

Susan Mikula’s sic transit 05 (2008).

A couple of days ago, following Todd McCarthy’s entertaining takedown in Variety, we expressed heartfelt hope that the Times would assign its review of Will Smith’s new Seven Pounds to Manohla “The Terminator” Dargis. Turns out that wasn’t even necessary! This morning, the typically nicer A.O. Scott hilariously brutalizes the film, branding it “among the most transcendently, eye-poppingly, call-your-friend-
over-it-one-more-time crazily awful motion pictures ever made.” Without revealing what it is (since “the people at Sony might not invite me to any more screenings”), he blasts Pounds’ creepy ending in a way that totally made us want to know what it is. So, we dug around on the Internet (mostly on the movie’s Wikipedia page) and figured it out. How bad is it? Bad! Spoilers, after the jump!

The film’s story is apparently told in out-of-order flashbacks, but here’s the gist: Will Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent. Some time ago, while out driving with his fiancée, he became distracted by his BlackBerry and turned his car into oncoming traffic, killing her and six strangers. Then, out of guilt, he decides to commit suicide by sharing a bathtub with a deadly jellyfish so he can donate his organs to atone for his sins. Using his IRS credentials (they’re actually his brother’s — Will Smith’s character, whose real name is Tim Thomas, stole his identity), he tracks down seven strangers in need: Woody Harrelson plays a blind pianist who gets his eyes, “Ben” gives his lungs to his ailing brother (the real Ben), he gives a single mother his house, some other woman gets his liver, some dude on dialysis takes his kidney, another guy gets his bone marrow, and he gives Rosario Dawson, the movie’s love interest with congestive heart failure, his heart (barf!). (One person who needed bone marrow turns out to not be very nice, and since Ben has pledged only to give his organs to “good” people, he had to pick someone else.) Anyway, yes, the film’s title refers to the “seven pounds” of flesh that Ben gives to make up for killing seven innocent people. At movie’s end, after Will Smith kills himself, Rosario Dawson (who finally has a heart that can reliably pump blood to her various extremities!) meets Woody Harrelson (who can now see!) and they cry.

An I.R.S. Do-Gooder and Other Strangeness [NYT]

How Bad Is Seven Pounds’ Ending, Anyway?