Collateral Beauty is the worst kind of artificial tear jerker that isn't secure in its own message so it decides to beat the viewer over the head with its message.
Title: Collateral Beauty
Director: David Frankel
Summary: Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
There are few things more frustrating than a terrible movie with a truly star studded cast. It's watching a bunch of top tier actors show up for a paycheck and it's depressing not only to watch but also as a critic and a creative. There isn't anything wrong with a movie trying to bring out emotion or make an audience cry (Nicholas Sparks has made a career out of it) but a film needs to understand the difference between bringing out emotion in its audience and telling its audience how it's supposed to feel. This is a movie that does the opposite to an almost laughable degree. It hits all of the notes that are supposed to make you sad but they are all so forced and artificial that aside from reacting to the actors emotions they ring completely hollow.
This cast is filled with not only some of the best in the business nut Oscar winners and nominees as well including Will Smith, Meryl Streep, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton, and Kate Winslet and no one is given anything of interest to do. The movie tries to make you care about these people but they are all so one dimensional that you know exactly how their stories are going to end before the movie is even halfway over. The various 'pairs' of people, to put it without spoiling, fits together so well that you almost want to give the movie a cookie so it'll stop asking for a cookie for being so clever. It's insufferable and it gets more and more annoying as the thankfully short ninety-four minutes went by. There are moments that were sad but they were mostly just watching good actors act sad and that isn't lasting. The moments were fleeting and weightless. A truly sad movie will leave you feeling sad for hours or even days afterwards.
Collateral Beauty will leave you within five seconds of the credits rolling.
This will likely be a movie where the critics and the audience don't agree. The reason for that really comes down to the fact that critics see so many more movies than audiences typically do. Collateral Beauty doesn't feel real because we've all seen this movie ten times this year alone. An audience member has maybe seen half a dozen movies all year so they aren't as sick of these tropes as critics are. Perhaps that's the fault of us but the truth of the matter is relying on cliche when you have a cast this good isn't good filmmaking. Director David Frankel brought us Marley and Me and The Devil Wears Prada so he should really know better.
Collateral Beauty is a movie that the studio had so little faith in that they decided to open it against Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which really says everything. There isn't a single reason for anyone to go see this heavy handed mess unless you're really that desperate for an artificially induced cry. If that's the case then pinch your arm instead; it'll probably be less painful.