Saturday, December 31, 2016

Movie Review #541: "Collateral Beauty" (2016)

Director: David Frankel
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
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Howard (Will Smith) is the owner of an advertising firm. He has fallen into a deep depression since the death of his daughter a few years prior. The three co-owners of the company and Howard's best friends, Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Peña), want to convince the board that he is mentally incompetent in order to sell the company and save everyone's jobs. Their solution is to hire three actors to create a ruse to convince Howard he is talking to three abstracts, Death, Time, and Love, and film him while doing so so they can use the tapes to prove their case.

"Collateral Beauty" is directed by David Frankel, who is known for directing films like "Marley & Me" and "The Big Year." It is written by Allan Loeb, who has written movie such as "The Switch" and "Just Go With It." It stars Oscar nominees Will Smith, Edward Norton, and Keira Knightly, and Oscar winners Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren, as well as Michael Peña, Jacob Latimore, and Naomie Harris. The question is, with such a cast ripe with talent and with a release date in the right season for supreme heartstring-tugging, how they hell did Hollywood produce such a sappy, contrived, melodramatic, manipulative donkey fart of a movie like "Collateral Beauty"?

We saw the trailer for this film several months ago and thought, "this looks like the standard emotional Oscar bait and/or inspirational magical holiday film about overcoming grief. We could be into this if it's done right." We're here to tell you it is absolutely not any of this. If you've seen the trailer (honestly, if you've been to the movies any time in the past 6 months, you've probably seen the trailer for this film), forget what you saw because whatever you think "Collateral Beauty" is about is wrong. The trailer is so far from the plot of the movie itself, those responsible for this bomb should sue the trailer making company for misleading the public.

What this film is actually about a group of coworkers, Whit, played by Norton, Claire, played by Winslet, and Simon, played by Peña, who hire three actors so they can convince the board of their company their boss Howard, the majority stockholder and THEIR BEST FRIEND, is crazy, mentally unstable, and incapable of making rational decisions. They do this so they can sell the company, which has been floundering since Howard fell into a depression after the loss of his young daughter. Selling it will save the jobs of all of the employees and earn the three of them a big ol' fat payday. MERRY F*CKIN' CHRISTMAS!!! Of course, there's more than meets the eye with these three actors, named Brigitte, played by Mirren, Raffi, played by Latimore, and Amy, played by Knightley, who are chased down by Whit while looking for some tail. Whit, Claire, and Simon all have problems of their own, and though they think what they are doing may be for a solid reason in favor of the greater good, it's still a pretty humongous dick move.

This is a movie that thinks it's deeper and smarter than it is. David Frankel and co. try to create twists and turns in the story, but ultimately, it is so clumsily handled that we see these "gotcha!" moments coming from miles away. What's worse is when we see the movie heading towards these turns, we are forced to sit there silently and think to ourselves, "how dumb would it be if such and such were to happen? There's no way they would do something this obvious, right?" By the end of the film, of course, such and such has happened, and the minute the other 3 patrons left the theater in front of us, the time to stew in our anger began. The longer we think about it, the more pissed off we get at whatever idiot writer thought such a direction could have possibly made for an entertaining, redemptive film. Each and every moment meant to shock the audience left us rolling our eyes at how intentionally emotionally deceptive it all is. It's all done for money (and this applies to both real life and within the movie itself), and given how carelessly facile the plot it, it is clearly made by people who have never truly grieved a day in their lives. The more you think about how much potential is truly squandered here, the more you'll wind up hating this movie.

Let us reiterate. Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet. Oscar nominees Will Smith, Keira Knightley, and Edward Norton. Soon to be Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (we're projecting here, but hopefully). Drink it in, folks. Five to six people who, at one point in their respective careers, have been at the top of their game, and none of them, not one of them, make "Collateral Beauty" anything better than a vindictive, bitter, steaming pile of disingenuous, flawed garbage. This film is the definition of "click-bait." It's shallow, a terrible waste of precious movie watching minutes, and if not even Helen Mirren can make it better? You know you're screwed.


My Rating: 2.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 13%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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