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Review: Collateral Beauty

Collateral Beauty
12.16.2016
5 10

PLOT: A creative exec (Will Smith) is unmoored by the death of his young daughter. Two years later, on the eve of an important merger, he’s yet to recover, leading his partners (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet & Michael Pena) to make an ambitious stab at snapping him back to reality by hiring three out-of-work actors to pose as “Time”, “Death” and “Love” in the hopes that one will manage to engage him.

REVIEW: The holiday weepie is well within Will Smith’s comfort zone. About ten years ago, he had a major success with THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (no, that’s not a typo); following it up a few years later with the less successful SEVEN POUNDS. COLLATERAL BEAUTY is very much in the mold of the latter, with Smith cast to type as the perfect friend/exec/family man, whose heart, understandably, is broken by the death of his six-year-old. The loss of a child is nothing to sneeze at, but this film is borderline merciless as it tries to tug at the heartstrings, with shots of a devastated Smith bicycling around NYC aimlessly while Peter Gabriel plays in the background. Smith wants you all to cry. Sadly, the movie is so damn manipulative, instead of making your eyes leak tears it’ll just have them rolling back in your head at the inanity of it all.

COLLATERAL BEAUTY is trying hard to be a 21st century CHRISTMAS CAROL, and maybe Allan Loeb’s screenplay was a killer on paper. But, director David Frankel, of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and MARLEY & ME doesn’t give the film the style it needed to make the premise work. Basically, the three actors hired to impersonate time, death and love (Jacob Latimore, Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley, respectively) are so angelic and all-knowing, it’s not tough to predict one of the big twists. Their interactions with Smith never go beyond Hallmark greeting card sentiments and the movie fares better when they’re off-screen.

In fact, COLLATERAL BEAUTY comes close to being an OK romance when Smith is paired with Naomi Harris, as the head of a bereavement support group who also lost her daughter. Their tentative romance, friendship almost works until you start to suspect something…a really goofy twist that…nah, the filmmakers couldn’t go for…they just couldn’t! They do.

Everyone does their best, even Smith, whose awards-bait performances are often mocked (he’s better when allowing his natural charisma to flow). Edward Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena are each paired-up with Knightley, Latimore and Mirren, with each helping the other through something. Norton’s trying to earn his daughter’s love, Winslet wants a baby but thinks she’s too old, and – in the only story that actually works – Pena must come to terms with his terminal illness (from the first time he coughs we know he’s a goner).

After the movie, a studio rep came up to me and asked me what I thought of the film. I told them that most of us at JoBlo are probably not going to like something like this. However, this isn’t made for us. The less cynical folks, specifically people like my parents, will eat this up. So, if you can go in just wanting a “nice” movie, you might get something out of COLLATERAL BEAUTY. But, for the rest of us, this is short, never boring, but also hopelessly corny and oh so silly.

Source: JoBlo.com

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