Collateral Beauty (2016)

Folks, this is an extra special post. I’ve been keeping a detailed list of everything on the blog, and excluding basic information and non-review posts, this is my 200th review! This is huge milestone! And on top of that, today, January 6th, is the one year anniversary of my first review, Under the Silver Lake! When I looked at the calendar I couldn’t believe that both events lined up so perfectly, yet here we are. Thank you all so much for sticking around and giving me a little serotonin boost whenever I see your views, likes, and comments. I couldn’t have kept this up without you. I have a lot of plans for this year that I can’t wait to unveil.

And to celebrate this extra special occasion, I’m talking about a very special movie that drives me absolutely crazy whenever I think about it. This movie has a star studded cast and was definitely made to soak up as many awards as it could with its story about grief and love, but has one of the weirdest premises I’ve ever heard of. This is one of the worst movies several of these big name actors will be in. So hang on to your butts and let me rant about Collateral Beauty.

First of all, we’ve got an all star cast in this: Mr. Will Smith (this will not be the last time I talk about you this month, good sir), Edward Norton, Michael Peña, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore, Ann Dowd, and Naomie Harris. Hell, Latimore was the only actor I didn’t recognize, but that’s more me than him. Unfortunately that amount of star power feels like an attempt at overcompensating for a flawed script, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s say that you have a friend and business partner who lost a daughter. Absolute tragedy, no arguments from me. But two years later he hasn’t moved on. We all grieve in our own ways, but the company he founded is suffering from his inaction and jobs are on the line. He’s the majority shareholder, so there’s little you can do around him. How do you fix this? Is your idea, “We hire actors to pretend to be avatars of Love, Death, and Time and harass him in public so we can film it, digitally remove the actors, and present it to the board of directors as proof that he is mentally incompetent”? If so, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

But that’s the plot! Employees Norton, Peña, and Winslet work with actors Mirren, Knightley, and Latimore to drive Will Smith insane. It’s arguably for a good cause, but holy fuck, there have to be other options! While engaging in the most elaborate gaslighting campaign I’ve ever seen, the “friends” also come to grips with their own problems with the help of the actors. Knightley helps Norton reconnect with his daughter, Mirren helps Peña come to terms with his fatal illness, and Latimore helps Winslet realize she still has time to build a family. How sickeningly sweet.

But then we have the twists. See, those aren’t actors portraying Love, Death, and Time; those were the actual physical manifestations of those concepts! I guess they didn’t have anything more important to do. But is that not enough for you? Well then, check out the B-plot where Smith meets Naomie Harris at support group for parents who lost children. They connect quickly, but there are some odd moments that suggest more is going on. Turns out they’re exes! Yeah, after their daughter died and they were getting divorced, Will Smith wished they could meet as strangers again, and 2 years later Harris just… indulged that. I can’t think of a reason beyond trying to trick the audience so there’d be a second twist. Not that a movie like this NEEDED twists, but here we are regardless.

This entire movie feels so inauthentic. Sure, there are some moments where the actors do their job and you feel for them, but the premise is beyond insane. No normal person would come up with this plan and think it was a good idea! No normal person would indulge their ex by pretending they’d never met! And on top of all that, we find out that Love, Death, and Time manifest in our world and this is how they spend their time? It feels artificial, like a procedurally generated script made in the hopes of winning all the awards. Fuck, I hate this movie so much…

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7 thoughts on “Collateral Beauty (2016)

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