Review: Collateral Beauty

Does Collateral Beauty hold up as a beautiful masterpiece?
After sending three letters to the cosmos, a man coping with the death of his daughter shockingly receives an answer when he is visited by Death, Time, and Love themselves. Or so he thought. But will the film make you love the time well spent in the theater, or will it get you wishing for a swift death from the misery the movie brings?

Collateral Beauty centers on the lives of four people as they all try to grapple with major life-changing events occurring within their lives. When the CEO of a successful marketing company suddenly finds himself mourning his own child’s death, he ends up shirking his duties as CEO for several years, forcing three executives in the company to step up and try to find a solution. With a once in a life time opportunity to sell the company, these three executives are forced to find a way to remove the CEO from the picture. The three end up hiring stage actors to play the cosmic entities that the CEO had written hate mail to in order to convince the board that he was too crazy and too preoccupied with coping to handle his duties. Playing death, time, and love, these actors end up teaching the CEO lessons on how to cope with the loss of his daughter, and end up teaching the three executives some very important lessons along the way.

While the marketing made the film seem more akin to a whimsical, life-lesson flick like Stranger Than Fiction or Groundhogs Day, this movie fell short of being the next It’s A Wonderful Life. Collateral Beauty suffered from its writing, sounding like it was written by a marketing team rather than a writer’s room. While the film had some tongue-in-cheek criticism of the marketing industry with “shed your skin, find your life”, it contains a lot of over the top platitudes that push it too far beyond being believable and relatable. The film hits the audience over the head with its message and lacks the subtlety that a film like this truly requires. The film’s largest transgression, however, was the central reason for the plot. The three executives that try to paint the CEO as out of touch are supposed to be his best friends. Which makes it all the more shocking that they would purposely try to make a man grappling with his own daughter’s death feel like he is losing his mind. Although they try to fill in the backstories that would make this a logical decision for these characters, it is not enough to make their actions redeemable or okay. The entire plot made me feel uneasy. Especially for a feel-good, self-realization type of movie, this plot really gets in the way. The plot isn’t far enough to the farcical side to make it a dark comedy and isn’t far enoughto the serious side to make it a heavy drama, which makes the entire storyline feel out of place.

This isn’t to say that the film has no redeeming qualities, however. As odd as the plot may have been, there were still light moments that I thought were charming or funny. Helen Mirren in particular lit up every scene she was in. And as hard as it is to admit, I am an absolute sucker for these types of films. Parts of the film really did move me and I heard several tears in the theater as well. Overall, despite its flaws, I actually still enjoyed myself.

Overall, this film is certainly not going to be the next big, classic Christmas movie. It was underwhelming considering its cast and marketing, and was lacking a lot of the magic and whimsy I would have hoped for. But it’s still an enjoyable movie. Don’t expect anything beyond a superficial sap-fest, but if you’re like me and love these types of films, I still think it’s worth a shot.

2.5 out of 5

What would I have changed? (Spoilers)
Click here to read what I would Change
Johnny Johnny (Contributor) was born and raised in San Diego. He's been a fan of films the majority of his life. He enjoys the feeling it invokes and the power it has to take you to another place. 


pearldj said…
i wouldn't wouldn't call this movie a masterpiece but i did like it a lot. Will kind of played the spaced out a bit much with riding his bike the wrong way and it seemed as some of the things that was played over again was fine just doing it once to make the point as the second time it kind of made it boring.
all in all it was a good cast and had a good ending when he finally seemed to come to grips with reality again.
natash12 said…
I loved all the performances, but I wasn't into the ending. It wasn't very clear. Was the angel of death, played by Mirren an angel or was she at the hospital as a performer actor? It just didn't explain the story very well. Who where these actors and where did they come from?
Marty said…
I lost my youngest daughter last year to cancer so from a fathers point of view this was a very well told story. The Love, Death, & Time 'actors' in the film I felt from the start were angels placed into bodies playing actors so they could accomplish the goals they were sent to do, which I think they did, and did quite well within the scope of the story.
I don't think the purpose of the movie was to be too heavy or too light but to bring just a glimpse into the complex things one goes through with the loss of a child without totally draining your emotions while sitting in the theater.
tyban81 said…
I thought it was very well done. Very emotional story and the cast filled out the movie very well.
joan bush said…
I liked this movie with Will Smith and Helen Miran. The ending was quite a twist. I would like to see this movie over and catch some things I missed.
sandy weinstein said…
i think this is going to be a really good movie, will smith has really grown up, very emotional movie. a great cast
Konnie Semonski said…
This movie was not exactly what I was expecting. Will Smith did an excellent job in the lead role as a distraught father who has lost his child. He becomes disengaged with the world, his friends, and ultimately himself. Writing letters to the Cosmos to Love, Time and Death is therapy. At times this movie seemed superficial but had many redeeming qualities of the performances of the actors. In the end it was a good film overall. Worth your time to see.
Mily Cueto said…
Great movie and nice message
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