Title – Collateral Beauty (2016)
Director – David Frankel (Marley and Me)
Cast – Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Pena, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Jacob Latimore, Naomie Harris
Plot – Grieving and reclusive marketing executive Howard (Smith) finds his world interrupted by Death (Mirren), Time (Latimore) and Love (Knightly), actors who’ve secretly been recruited by Howard’s colleagues Whit (Norton), Claire (Winslet) and Simon (Pena) to make Howard love life once again.
“We don’t get to choose who we love or who loves us back”
Review by Eddie on 28/04/2017
His got some runs on the board when it comes to schmaltzy and sentimental dramas with the likes of The Pursuit of Happyness and to a lesser extent 7 Pounds, but continuing on with a worrying amount of recent misfires, Hollywood playmaker Will Smith finds himself a side character in David Frankel’s misguided and trite Collateral Beauty.
Trying all at once to be both a feel good holiday period event, a heartbreaking tale of grief, loss and of course love as well as an awkward comedy. Beauty is one of those tonally off films that very early on suggests an uneasiness with its material and despite Frankel showcasing form in the past with films like Marley and Me and The Devil Wears Prada, he along with a seriously underdeveloped A-list cast get lost in a dire story of Will Smith’s depressed marketing bigwig, that never once threatens to capture our hearts.
As Smith’s Howard struggles to escape the black hole of depression after his young daughter passes away, his loving (more so money hungry) colleagues in the form of Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Kate Winslet recruit the help of a trio of actors played by Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly and Jacob Latimore to pretend to be Death, Love and Time to make Howard love life again and start making money for the company.
It’s a truly odd story, one that may’ve worked had it been handled by someone in the form of Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze but produced here with the oversaturated cheese that Hollywood is known to produce, Frankel’s film feels fake, forced and forgettable as well as a curious waste of Smith’s time and name brand recognition.
Relegated to what feels like a bit player in a story that is supposed to be about him, Howard gives Smith one of his worst roles outside of After Earth and Winter’s Tale as we’re barely allowed time or insight into Howard’s life or history of what made him such a stand-up guy in the first place.
We get ample looks at Howard making domino courses, riding his bike angrily around New York City and eventually conversations he has with a token love interest in the form of Naomie Harris’s grief counsellor Madeline (whose role feels completely thrown into an already overcrowded support cast) but Howard’s fly-in-fly-out nature in the film supposedly about him makes us care very little for what his going through despite the fact we know we clearly should.
Final Say –
There’s nothing wrong with a little Hollywood heart-string pulling but Collateral Beauty is a deserved critical and commercial flop. With a wasted cast, a rather cringe worthy story and an ending that will likely have you rolling your eyes; Frankel’s film ends up being another sad chapter in Will Smith’s recent career output.
1 thrown skateboard out of 5