Post contains spoilers

Want to be seen as an even more exceptional Samaritan than Will Smith‘s pained character in Seven Pounds? Look up the start times for the film at your local cineplex, show up at one or more screenings anytime before the final credits and angrily yell “…of shit!” while shaking your fist and exiting. The majority of the audience, though exhausted from enduring one of the worst films in recent memory, will thank you with a smile or a defeated nod.

Movie stars playing the martyr in films is nothing new (see The Dark Knight, Milk). What is new is the biggest movie star on the planet playing the martyr with such eerie righteousness and penitent disconnect that it may come to (purposely?) affect the public perception of every performance and media appearance that follows. It is difficult to recall a film that manipulates viewers into shamefully disliking its protagonist at an intuitive level. From the odd psych-ward haircut to the weight-of-the-world whimper that Smith wears for the duration of Seven Pounds (reminiscent of Will Ferrell’s kitchen-table snivel in Step Brothers), this guy is Creepsville, USA. Moreover, his illegal, stalker-like behavior is justified (endorsed by the filmmakers, even) by a probable mental breakdown that resulted from a tragic accident. Place Smith’s character in the similarly unstable role of the driving instructor in Happy-Go-Lucky and Sally Hawkins’s character would find herself the happy, burdened owner of a sparkly used car!

By film’s end, we are supposed to take weepy-eyed comfort in the fact that the bogus on-screen relationship between Smith’s IRS agent and Rosario Dawson (absolutely terrible or brainwashed) is not a prolonged segment of Unsolved Mysteries that ends in a forest. You see, director Gabriele Muccino‘s follow-up to The Pursuit of Happyness (a film I liked) is simply the legend of Johnny Appleseed reimagined for these ever strange days as Johnny Bodyparts with a dash of Falling Down. Happy holidays, and remember to put down your Blackberries while driving into oncoming traffic.

Discuss: Many critics are in agreement, but do you think Will Smith’s Seven Pounds is the worst/creepiest movie of 2008? And how about that box jellyfish (e-meter?)?

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