‘Collateral Beauty’ Review Roundup: Will Smith Film Is A Clichéd Mess
Collateral Beauty hit theaters on Friday, and the film has received nothing but terrible reviews. While this film has a star-studded cast, its fantastical and tragic themes fail to pull at your heartstrings.
Director David Frankel and writer Allan Loeb create a story that focuses on the life of a man named Howard Inlet (Will Smith). Howard is a successful ad executive in New York, when the sudden death of his six-year-old daughter leaves him in an empty state. His three business partners, Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Peña), see the ad agency heading south without Howard’s leadership and come up with a diabolical plan to remove him from the company.
Howard uses his grief to write letters to Love, Time, and Death. Whit’s plan is to get hold of the letters and to hire actors Amy (Keira Knightley), Brigitte (Helen Mirren), and Raffi (Jacob Lattimore) to portray the three abstractions and answer Howard’s letters in person. Whit hires a private detective (Ann Dowd) to follow Howard and observe his behavior while he interacts with the three characters, so that the partners can get Howard declared incompetent.
Critics say the film is a bad holiday fable that attempts to show grief as beautiful through a mediocre plot.
‘Collateral Beauty’ Reviews
“Collateral Beauty is one of those cloying movies about learning to take the good with the bad that feels like it was made by aliens with little grasp of human life. (Presumably from the Andromeda galaxy, whence come the dreaded dramedies.) Collateral Beauty isn’t that clever. The script, by Allan Loeb (The Switch, Here Comes The Boom), seems like satire at first, with its offhand references to previous failed interventions in Howard’s life, like an ayahuasca shaman who was flown from Peru at great expense. But it is lethally sincere when it comes to bathos and psychobabble.” – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, A.V. Club
“Collateral Beauty” is damaged. What starts as a study of a grieving father — Will Smith in full do-I-get-an-Oscar mode — soon turns into a mediocre holiday fable, its Christmas stockings stuffed with every heartwarming, Hollywood cliché. Smith — a good actor with sometimes terrible, oh-so-serious taste — fully commits to a sticky, icky morality tale and gets other, even better actors to sign on.” – Stephen Witty, New York Daily News
“It asks a lot of an audience to sit through a drama about a parent grieving over the loss of a child. The subject is rough — and beyond that, it has a vast potential for programmed pathos and fake sentiment. That’s part of the miracle of “Manchester by the Sea.” It leads us through one man’s life of locked-in sorrow with a sculptured emotional elegance that is never false; at the same time, the cathartic honesty of its journey allows the audience to touch a nerve of desolation and still breathe free. So it’s telling, in a way, that in an awards season that’s been tilting away from major-studio releases and toward independent works like “Manchester,” along comes “Collateral Beauty,” the big soppy whimsical lump-in-the-throat commercial version of a drama of parental grief. It feels like a Hollywood awards movie from 30 years ago, laced with the kind of four-hankie strategies — hugs, buckets of tears, New Age greeting-card sentiments — that “Manchester” transcended. By the end of “Collateral Beauty,” you’d have to have a heart of stone for the film not to get to you a bit, but even if it does, you may still feel like you’ve been played.” – Owen Glieberman, Variety