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Force Of Will

Question: Who will take on Will Smith at the box office? Answer: Nobody!

This week has a couple of prestige films going into wide release (Doubt, Frost/Nixon), along with a Christmas movie (Nothing Like the Holidays), and a sci-fi action flick (the Keanu-starring remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still). Two weeks after that, the table is piled high with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Wrestler, The Reader, The Spirit, Valkyrie, and Marley and Me.

In the intervening week, however, nothing dares take on the Smith vehicle Seven Pounds except for The Tale of Desperaux, an animated film about a plucky mouse. Nor is this the first time this year that Smith has had a prime movie weekend to himself except for a token, kid-friendly alternative--though at least in this case, that alternative doesn't star Smith's seven-year-old daughter. It's true that with the run Smith has been on (8 straight movies--and 12 of his last 14--grossing over $100 million), he's likely to win any weekend he opens. But it'd be nice if someone would at least try to offer him some competition. Among other things, it might put a little pressure on him to find better projects than the train-wreck Hancock and the awful-in-an-altogether-different-way Seven Pounds.

Christopher Orr