Directed by David Frankel
Written by Allan Loeb
Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, Jacob Latimore, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren
It’s the holiday season which means that it is also the time of year where a filmmaker can make a movie that is essentially “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” thrown in a blender without doing another adaptation of the former and a remake of the latter. That, in a nutshell, is the kind of movie that “Collateral Beauty” is, and it the lite/store brand version of both of those films.
“Collateral Beauty” is too sentimental, too inconsistent and is a textbook example of Capra-corn. When the film tries to be funny, it is so bad it is funny, but only because it failed terribly at the levity. When the film is sentimental, it takes the easiest shot at the audience’s heartstrings. The emotions that the film was able to elicited from me were not genuine, and only elicited because on some level I understood what Will Smith’s character was going through because my older sister passed on when she was 4-years-old. The film’s big flaw is that it is unable to find a balance between the humor and the sentiment. Part of the movie thinks that it is this pretentious, intellectual comedy about death, love and time, while the other part of the movie believes it is a drama about the grieving process.
While “Collateral Beauty” is a mediocre movie overall, the only thing that can be salvaged from this wreck is the performance of Will Smith. Much like Bradley Cooper in last year’s “Burnt” Will Smith’s performance is excellent, and if not for the quality of the film surrounding him, he could very well have walked away with at least an Oscar nomination. Smith’s performance is the only thing keeping me from giving this movie a zero rating because his performance elevates the movie from complete junk to something that is at least watchable.
“Collateral Beauty” is an excellent performance surrounded by a subpar film. I could only recommend this movie to people who like to watch movies that are too sentimental, but not to anyone who wants some good holiday fare.