By Christian DiMartino
Now that I’m back writing on here again, I made a personal rule for myself: unless it’s a reflection piece, I will not be reviewing anything unless it’s within the weekend of its release. But yet Collateral Beauty is the exception to the rule, because, well, this is going to be a lot of fun.
Not the movie itself. But the review.
You see, people often ask why I put myself through such a wringer. Why do I sit through these monstrosities? Usually, my answer is something along the lines of “because I watch everything.” But no no no. Abominations like Collateral Beauty bring out the best in me, in terms of writing. As much torture as they can be, I usually have such a ball stomping all over these terrible films.
Which leads me to Collateral Beauty. What the hell is Collateral Beauty? What the hell does that even mean? Your guess is as good as mine, and I’ve just witnessed the debacle right in front of me. What I can tell you is that this so-called “collateral beauty” sounds like something a pretentious, hipster college douchebag came up with when he/she was high, and decided to make a movie around it.
Just last month, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt starred in the ill-conceived mess that was Passengers, in which the makers of the film had audiences thinking it was about one thing, when it was about something else entirely. With good reason. Passengers was icky. The makers of Collateral Beauty have pulled off a similar ruse, and with even better reason.
Collateral Beauty is cold, mean, manipulative (in more ways than one), hokey, and, to be perfectly frank, wrong. It’s a film of spectacular wrongness, right from the getgo. It is possible to make a great film about grief (see: Jackie), but if it’s done wrong, then the results could be catastrophic. As they are in Collateral Beauty.
Who comes up with a premise like this? Honestly? The trailers have you believing that there is some sort of magic on display, and while that sounds ridiculous, I would’ve rather have watched that movie than this one, which doops you into believing it’s something meaningful. Take my word for it: it ain’t.
So, what is this thing actually about? Allow me. Will Smith plays Howard, who runs some company. Howard’s daughter died like two years ago, and it has pretty much destroyed him. There is no joy left in this man. Why does Smith keep doing these mopey roles? Well I guess if I had kids like Willow and Jaden, I might mope too.
Anyways, Howard’s friends Claire, Simon, and Whit (Kate Winslet, Michael Pena, and Edward Norton… what are you doing here?) all work at this company, and have noticed his depression. They also feel like he’s not handling the company the best he can. So, rather than try to help him with his depression, they hire a private investigator to dig up dirt on him. Wait what?
Yep, you read that correctly. But it doesn’t end there. The PI (Ann Dowd) discovers that Howard has been sending letters. Not to people, but to things, such as Death, Love, and Time. So it is then that Whit hatches a plan: they hire actors (Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, and Jacob Lattimore) to portray Death, Love and Time. THEN, they will capture it on footage, making Howard seem as if he isn’t mentally stable enough to handle the company.
So, I must ask: who in their right mind thought this was a good idea for a movie? Perhaps it was. But you know, the film I saw before me left me feeling colder than the time I was locked out in the snow… two weeks ago.
It’s all so wrong. Spectacularly so. It actually expects you to care about Claire, Simon, and Whit, even though they’re all horrendous people. Especially Whit. Maybe the acting isn’t bad here, but I have never hated Norton this much. I wanted to punch him in his smug face.
This is a film that probably meant well, but it all rings extremely false. It’s also, when it really tries to get real, quite laughable. Call me heartless, but I was not buying what this garbage was selling, because let’s face it: they’re selling garbage.
How did such talent sign on to such a listless film? Maybe they found something meaningful here. But it’s completely phony. Especially that ending. If that isn’t the biggest load of rubbish…
Collateral Beauty certainly is one of the worst films of 2016. I almost want you to see it, just to witness what a travesty it is. Furthermore, it officially captures what Aloha and The Counselor did before it: if there is this much talent in a movie, it cannot be trusted.