Will Smith stars as an advertising executive who has lost his child to a rare form of Cancer. After two years his zombie like existence is starting to effect his life in every way. The company that he owns is starting to suffer from his lack of involvement in the business and his partners and co workers are looking for a way to try salvage the company and stop bankruptcy. Edward Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena star as the friends, who embark on a wacky idea and employ three actors to play the abstracts Time, Love, and Death. They have to go to Smith in real life and tell him that he has to move on and start to see the beauty around him. The three actors start to help the people who hire them as well.
This is A Christmas Carol just in different clothes. Instead of visiting a miser who does not want to spend a penny they visit a heartbroken man and try to make him see that life is still worth living. If you look at the film from that point of view then you’re going to enjoy this more than just seeing it as another half hearted Will Smith vehicle. There is an emotional connection that you have with Smith’s character and you start to ask yourself how you would handle the loss of a child. You feel his pain through every step of the way and wonder if you’d be that together to even hand life. Will Smith is great here, it’s a real character that he could easily fall into, but there was a few punches that felt pulled.
Edward Norton is funny and likable but he’s always had that comedy timing that he rarely explores. Kate Winslet’s character though is a bit wishy washy and you don’t care about her life choices at all, even though she’s a major part of the plan. Once again it’s character actor Michael Pena who stole Ant-Man and he pretty much steals this film and you wanted to know more about his character and follow him through his own personal heartbreak. Two of the three actors are played by English Stars Keira Knightly and Helen Mirren, honestly I don’t know why Keira Knightly is there as she is wasted and every time she’s on screen I hear the same music from Love Actually. Helen Mirren could show up and read a phone directory, showing my age there, and you’d happily sit there and listen.
The real problem with Collateral Beauty and the reason that Critics are going after it like I do with the gin on Christmas Eve is that the film is short. It’s 90 minutes and feels as though it was written by the Hallmark Channel and someone who watched Love Actually. That’s the plain truth to this. If we had a little more for each of the main characters and maybe a little more background I’d have been giving this four or five and next Christmas giving a copy of this to everyone on my presents list. That’s two copies.
You have a fantastic cast in what could have been the most wonderful Christmas story of 2016 but the pulled punches and drastic editing leave you feeling a little hard done by. It’s not like a film where you leave going ‘That was terrible!’ Collateral Beauty is far from terrible. Why Reviewers are bashing this film is simply because we can see that there was a great idea cut down to fit into a certain time. If they had left us with a complete story that ran as long as it was needed then I’d be the first in line to see this in the cinema. I will buy it on DVD or if given a BluRay copy I would not complain. By far not the worst Christmas film I’ve ever seen, as Nativity 3 still holds that crown, but the feeling of what could have been with that cast is just the big killer. If you are a fan of Will Smith, Ed Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, or for some reason Ms. Knightly then you’ll be happy enough. But if you are a fan of a complete well rounded story then you may have some problems.