‘Collateral Beauty’ was released late last year, and was Will Smiths yearly Oscar-bait bid. I kept on seeing the movie’s trailer, and I kept asking myself, isn’t it sad that that Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, and Edward Norton all have to play support to Smith? Surely if they were able to corral all these actors, then there must be something about this movie that is appealing to someone, right? The notices for the film weren’t kind at all, and it got lost in the shuffle over the Holidays. I am just catching up to it now, and surely, it isn;t as bad, but clearly it isn’t good at all.
I will list the positives: Mirren is always a joy to watch – the screen perks up whenever she is on it, and even the treacly script comes alive under her spell. Winslet looks like she is sleepwalking through all of it, and Norton seems bored, but their performances are like pizza – even in bad circumstances, they are still satisfying. There are also good performances here by Keira Knightly and Michael Pena, in slightly smaller roles they don’t deserve. And Will Smith? I don’t dislike him at all, but maybe it’s my fault that I cannot shake his smug mug I usually associate with his action movie roles. But he’s perfectly fine here, and he doesn’t totally disappear in the move, although opposite his scenes with Mirren, he practically does. And the movie portrays grief realistically, and that’s something very good.
Still, as a whole, the movie does have a bad aftertaste. the premise is preposterous and insulting, and the cheap sentimentality is in serious overload here. And it feels like something from the Hallmark channel, although better than a lot of things from the Hallmark channel. Should you watch it? Helen Mirren’s presence is always worth something.