Posted Dec 28 2016

Collateral Beauty - This Movie Soooooo Does Not Rock

Dir: David Frankel

Starring Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslett, Naomie Harris, Michael Pena, Jacob Latimore

Is it just us, but ever since Will Smith blubbed his way through that dreadful speech about Bob Marley being some sort of prophet in I Am Legend – it’s been hard to take the man seriously. Yet, he keeps on trying.

And it’s fair to say that here he is very trying indeed, as is Collateral Beauty as a whole (hole?) – a film that unexpectedly shows up in the dog days to usurp the title of Worst Film Of The Year from the clear winner we thought was Dirty Grandpa.

Smith stars as an advertising exec who takes the three tenants in life he applies to his business – love, time and death – and starts applying them to everything following the tragic death of his daughter. To the point where he begins writing letters to these abstract concepts, and mailing said letters – with a stamp no less (just in case anyone thought he was being unreasonable.) When his best friends – Winslett, Norton and Pena (who are also his advertising corporate buddies and are equally concerned with picking up some big time cash from an upcoming buy out), learn of the letters, they come up with the totally reasonable idea of hiring some unemployed actors ( Mirren, Knightly and Latimore) to show up in Big Willie’s devastated life as Death, Love and Time respectively, to, you know, impart life lessons and drag him back to post-grief normality.

No, we’re not making this shit up – and it actually manages to be worse than it sounds, courtesy of Allan Loeb’s remarkably crass screenplay. (Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman were both attached to this pre-Willie – well done lads for getting out while you still had your dignity intact.) Naomie Harris also shows up to drop the title of the movie at least six times in one scene – Loeb clearly thought he’d coined a good one there! – which doesn’t help. If anything, it just adds to the endless parade of homilies and non-sequiters than every normally decent actor here is required to deliver. (Read the script folks – half of what you’re saying genuinely makes no sense!!)

As if recognising its own weaknesses in basic plot, the film takes plenty of diversions away from Smith, ensuring that everyone gets an equally saccharine backstory along the way. Yes, every A-lister gets their “moment” here, but said “moments” are so heavy-handed as to make any level of potential empathy impossible – Pena has cancer – so what? Winslett’s biological clock is past it – who gives a shit? Disdain becomes the dominant response from anyone watching (or at least it should) and you spend most of the screen time just trying to remember when this fine a cast was last squandered on so little. It genuinely borders on embarrassment at times.

And then we get to its dreadful ending. And then we get to its second dreadful ending. And then its third – yes, it really does keep going and manages what you’d think would be impossible by then – its keeps getting worse.

Just when you thought 2016 had delivered every blow it had...


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