Review-I think “ Collateral Beauty” can go down as the most misunderstood films of the last decade. Before we point fingers at moviegoers and critics, let us focus on the studio itself. Warner Brothers bragged about this film back in March. “ This is the role that Will Smith was born to play”. They even boasted that this film could win heavy at the Oscars. Will did some press junkets where he was very proud of this film and excited about the possibilities of what this film could bring him in term of praise and box office gross. Then came the news that Warner was taking this film out of Oscar consideration and dumped it at the movie theater to compete on opening weekend with the little indie film “ Rogue One”. There was no advance showings for critics and it just flopped. The sad part was the all-star cast and that the budget was under 40 million dollars. (Not including the extra millions thrown in for advertising, so maybe say the budget may have been closer to 50 million dollars) Warner tried this trick again, even with the blu ray and dvd release. They let the critics get their copies a few days after the release. The sad thing, this film is not as bad as you would expect it to be. I will say right off the bat, the film is pretentious and manipulating. The plot is paper thin and the acting at times does get overly dramatic. This film is all about making the audience cry. They try at every convenience to pull at the heart strings. The characters in this film are likable to an extent, but they do not seem genuine or relatable. They seem like people we look inside a window at, instead of living in a world with. Will Smith, who is in need of a box office spark, plays Howard. He is your typical Will Smith character. He has the personality and charm, and is so full of life.
Three years goes by and all of a sudden he is no longer who he once was. He refuses to sign some paperwork that will allow his fellow owners to sell the company. We learn that he lost his daughter to cancer two years ago. We watch as he is struggling to come to terms with the loss. He spends his time now sitting in a park staring into the sky and writing letters to Death, Love and TIme. One of his friends suggest to hire some actors to play the roles of Time, Love and Death. Taking on the image of the three ghosts in “ A Christmas Carol”. After his encounters with these three he begins to question not only life but his own sanity. This sanity sees him go to a support group helping parents cope with dead kids. There he meets a woman named Madeline who he begins to form some kind of bond with. I have so many questions as I got to the credits. Are we supposed to have feelings for his three partners who are making him feel he is losing his mind and seeing things? I mean, what is every parent’s’ worst reality? I would guess losing or someone harming their kid would be close to the top of the list. The film decides that to tell us about Will Smith and his issues are not enough, we sit thru the issues of his partners as well. This film wants to lay it on thick. This film is clearly not Oscar worthy. This film is watchable for the simple fact that Will Smith really makes you feel for his character. He sucks you into this story, where you know how fake it is and how silly it becomes, but you want to see how it ends for him. You want to cheer him on, which after all is what Will Smith has become a billionaire doing. I know people wanted to compare this film to “ Fences” and “ Moonlight”. Which seems sort of silly. It would be like comparing “ Mad Max-Fury Road” to “ Ferris Bueler”. This film was at least better for Will than “Suicide Squad”. That does not say too much.
7 out of 10