Australian Council on Children and the Media

Seven Pounds

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 due to disturbing scenes and themes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Seven Pounds
  • a review of Seven Pounds completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 January 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Seven Pounds
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes
Length 123 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Ben Thomas (Will Smith), a taxation field agent, is a man tormented by a traumatic event in his recent past. He carries guilt and grief from this event with him, affecting his ability to function day to day and his relationships with others. Ben attempts to set matters right through a complex plan of giving generous gifts to seven other people, including Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson) who has beome blind and Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) who is waiting for a heart transplant. In doing so, Ben changes the lives of many people and along the way, finds a way to show his love to others again. However, Ben’s giving to others comes a high cost to himself.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Suicide; grief and loss; sacrifice and redemption

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Ben gets angry after a phone call and starts yelling and destroying furniture in his home.
  • Ben is furious about the treatment of an old woman in a nursing home, and attacks the director of the home. He pushes the man’s head into a glass wall, shattering the glass slightly.
  • Ben watches an ice hockey practice, during which a fight breaks out. The matter is rapidly resolved and the coach reprimands everyone involved.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • At the start of the movie, Ben calls an ambulance for a suicide victim. When asked who that victim is, he says “I am”. He appears distressed.
  • Ben angrily yells at and bullies a blind call centre employee, Ezra. After he hangs up, he is ashamed of his actions, starts yelling the names of seven people and destroys some furniture.
  • Several scenes in the movie show Ben thinking back to happier times with his girlfriend Sarah. He becomes upset and cries at these times. Some children may find this upsetting.
  • Ben’s friend Dan becomes very distressed with his role in Ben’s plan.
  • Emily’s condition deteriorates and she collapses at home, hitting her head on the brick footpath. She shown alone and unconscious, then back in hospital again. She appears scared by the bad news about her heart condition.
  • A young cancer patient is seen in hospital with his mother. He is receiving treatment.
  • Connie  calls Ben for help. She has been beaten by her boyfriend and clearly has facial bruising. She appears very scared, and is hiding out with her 2 children.
  • Ben donates bone marrow at the hospital without any pain relief. He appears to be in a tremendous amount of pain.
  • Ben runs through the rain to the hospital to confront Emily’s doctor about her prognosis. He is clearly upset about the implications for Emily and himself.
  • Throughout the movie and particularly towards the end, there are scenes depicting the car accident involving Ben, Sarah and another minibus. The last scene is quite graphic, showing the car and minibus being tossed through the air and rolling heavily on the ground. People are shown in both vehicles, screaming, falling and bleeding. Ben gets out of the car to see the carnage and dead bodies around him.
  • Ben’s suicide scene is depicted. He places himself in a bath filled with ice, then drops a box jellyfish in with him. He is stung a few times, and is shown to be in severe pain and agony. He dies in the bathroom. He is then seen emerging from an ambulance and taken to an operating theatre, where his organs (only heart shown) are removed.
  • Ben’s brother and Emily are shown to be grief stricken during a scene when Emily is told of Ben’s plan.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Ben angrily asks blind call centre employee, Ezra, if he has ever had sex.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Emily and Ben kiss a few times.
  • There is one sex scene between Ben and Emily. They shown kissing and are naked, but only their shoulders, arms and sides are shown.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Ben and Emily drink wine together over dinner.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Son of a bitch
  • God damn
  • that sucks
  • oh my God
  • hell

In a nutshell

Seven Pounds is a thought provoking drama about a man’s attempt to make up for his past. This movie is not recommended for children, given its themes, and the deliberate complexity of its timeline and story. Some adolescents and adults may also find the movie’s content grim and disturbing.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Being a good person ‘even when people aren’t watching’.
  • Living life to the full
  • Forgiveness
  • Respecting the elderly and the vulnerable
  • Giving without expectation of reward

 This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Lying
  • Suicide
  • Organ donation

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