I will go see anything with Will Smith in it, as evidenced by the fact that I sat through the syrupy and ill-conceived Seven Pounds this weekend. Great cast, interesting idea, but it just didn’t come together somehow. So my advice is to skip it, but if you do end up watching it on an airplane someday, it has this redeeming feature: Will Smith gardening! Really, I’m not making this up. Someone, somewhere, connected to this film is a gardener, and their influence is felt in small but important ways.
The film opens at a Malibu beach house with an actual mature, interesting garden on the slope leading down to the beach. Sure, it was stuffed brightly-blooming something-or-others–they looked like azaleas but they could have been bougainvillea or even geraniums– but still, it was an appealing garden, not one of those fake Hollywood gardens made with strips of turf and five-gallon blooming annuals from Home Depot.
Then much of the action takes place in what looks like an older, established neighborhood of bungalows in Pasadena. One character (played by Amanda Carlin) is a gardener; she’s always out front in her big straw hat tinkering with her roses. The first time Will Smith meets her, he says, "Have you tried burying banana peels around your roses? It works."
And then he goes next door to meet Rosario Dawson, whose garden is clearly the sort of natural, unfussy, real garden someone would have in Pasadena–some ornamental grasses, some jasmine climbing up a trellis, some shrubs, a few little trees. At one point in the film, to ingratiate himself to her, Will Smith shows up and pulls some weeds.
That’s right, Will Smith pulling weeds. That’s an image to keep you warm this winter. Oh, and when he’s done with the weeds, he strips down to his tank top and repairs her antique printing press. Handy fellow, that guy.
That’s it–that’s as garden-y as it gets–but it was convincing and genuine. Who gets the credit for this? Turns out there’s a job called greensman, and in this case the greensman was Todd Wolcott. He probably didn’t have any influence over the script, but he did manage to pull off some convincing gardens—so nice work, Todd.