“Collateral Beauty”: A Catastrophic Misfire

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“Collateral Beauty” is directed by David Frankel and stars Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Peña, Helen Mirren, and Keira Knightley.  The movie is about (or so the trailer would have you think this movie is about) a man who is attempting to recover from a horrible tragedy by writing to things like love, death, and time, and what ends up happening is that this man is actually visited by human versions of these attributes, and from there they try to help him recover from his past.

The trailers for this movie seemed interesting enough, and the cast is beyond loaded, so I came into this movie with high expectations, especially with Oscar season being right around the corner.

The Good

Well, the cast is mostly fine.  Will Smith gives it his all as he always does, as he has to play a much more depressing character than he is used to.  Smith does play it very well, though I did miss seeing a more charismatic side to which he has mastered in his previous films.  Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren are also solid here, as both just play their usual type of character and do it well, and they do their best to lift up this, let’s just say subpar film.

There are some moments in the movie that do pack some emotional punch, and by some, I mean that you can count them on one hand if that one hand had three fingers cut off of it.  The most power comes with a few moments between Smith and the human versions of love, death, and time, and this is all because Smith really tries his best here, it just was not nearly enough.

The Bad

Some of the things I am about to discuss may sound like spoilers, especially if you saw the trailers for this movie, but I promise you, I am only saying things that are revealed within the first half hour of the film.  Also, just don’t go see this movie.  I really, really don’t want to see this movie make any more than the $8 I paid for it, so just stay home and do something less painful like repeatedly stubbing your toe into the corners of everything in your house, I promise it’s time better spent.

So the trailer would make you believe, as I did, that these people playing love, death, and time are just visions that Will Smith’s character is seeing as some sort of coping mechanism for his pain.  NOPE.  This film pulls the good old bait and switch, as it turns out, and these people are actually paid actors who are paid to play the roles of love, death, and time in order to make Will Smith appear as if he is going insane.  Does the movie sound stupid yet?  Oh, we’re just getting started.

This movie is so on the nose with its themes it is almost laughable.  The way director David Frankel and screenwriter Allan Loeb, who I will have more words for in a minute, implement these themes into the story doesn’t just lack subtlety, but they also lack any sort of understanding of emotion.  For a movie about tragedy and trauma, I felt absolutely nothing in my soul from start to finish, which is actually an incredible feat.  Even when Will Smith shined through the garbage material I was so sickened by everything around him that it didn’t have any lasting impact.

Back to Mr. Loeb here, please take a break from writing for a while, sir.  The script here is a travesty, as these award-winning actors are forced to read this brutally cheesy, straight to the point lines, and it is soul sucking to watch.  Also, any feeble shreds of comedy that are attempted here are completely diminished by the awful timing and the awful wording of the jokes.  I’ve seen nearly each and every actor in this movie shine elsewhere, so it’s so sad to watch each of them falter in their own ways because of the horrific work that is done behind the camera.

Edward Norton, my man, I feel the worst for you out of all your fellow co-stars.  Norton is a phenomenal actor, so don’t get me wrong when I say he is abysmal here, as I really don’t blame him for it.  The dynamic he has with his daughter just feels so wooden and so thrown together that none of the scenes with them work, and his character is so not funny when he sometimes is meant to be the comic relief that I was often laughing at him instead of with him.

Michael Peña‘s story wasn’t much better, as the symbolism became brutally obvious early on, and Kate Winslet‘s story was just as awful as well, as it is never really explained how much trouble she is going through.  Still, neither could be topped by the awkward moments of Norton and his daughter, as his bratty kid ruins these supposedly touching moments with painfully bad dialogue, as well as horrible delivery.

Each of the characters not named Will Smith, who are supposed to be his co-workers and friends, are complete and total scumbags.  Who tricks their friend into thinking he is seeing concepts after experiencing emotional trauma just so they can get his piece of the company?  Only the best of friends of course!  In all seriousness, I don’t know how I am supposed to feel pity for any of these pieces of garbage after they put their supposed friend through that, yet the movie expects me to tag right along and feel as if they’re relatable and sympathetic, which they aren’t.

If the whole first 80 minutes of the film wasn’t bad enough, the directors had to put in some poorly done plot twists that not only didn’t work emotionally, but also don’t work within the context of the plot.  Once these things are revealed, which I guess I won’t spoil but please do not go to the theaters for this thing,  looking back at this movie is like looking back at a minefield you just walked over and just shooting continuous rounds into it.  The story, as shaky as it was before these twists, is just a big pile of rubble after them, as earlier scenes fall completely apart and the story as a whole loses the little scraps of meaning it had left.

The problem that may be bigger than all of these massive issues, is just how little “Collateral Beauty” understands trauma and grief.  This movie could have been a really powerful showing of how to overcome even the worst of moments in your life, and how even when everything looks down, you can still find hope.  Instead, this movie shits the bed and comes off as pretentious, ridiculous, and downright offensive to those who have suffered from emotional damage.  The fact that this film often takes away from the focus and instead goes into subplots that lack any sort of weight is downright unforgivable, and I have nothing but hate in my heart for a movie this shallow.

Conclusion

“Collateral Beauty” isn’t just bad, it is a mockery of a film that could have been great.  The cast is there to be used, and this director and screenwriter decided to put a damper on all of their careers for this turd sandwich of a movie.  The trailer is almost a total lie, the emotion is nearly non-existent, the themes mine as well have jumped out of the screen and punched you in the face they’re so obvious, the dialogues are unbearably awful, and the twists at the end are just the middle finger to the audience that pushed me over the edge.  I want to give the movie a point just for the actors’ sake because I don’t blame them much at all.  However, there is just too much terrible done with so much potential that I cannot bring myself to giving “Collateral Beauty” a score higher than rock bottom.

There’s a reason this film wanted to compete with “Rogue One”: it’s because everyone who was a part of this movie wanted it to be buried and forgotten.  Don’t see “Collateral Beauty”, there are much quicker ways to feel pain.

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Don’t watch the trailer, it’s a trap.

Don’t get tickets and showtimes either.

Don’t see this movie.  What did you think of “Rogue One”?  Comment below with your thoughts.


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