Collateral Beauty is shaping up to be the worst-reviewed film of the year.
Critics weighed in on the new Will Smith movie on Tuesday, slamming it as “horrifyingly yucky” and claiming its all-star cast suffers from “actor abuse.” (Collateral Beauty currently sports a 14 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes with seven reviews posted there thus far.)
Smith plays an ad exec in New York City grieving the loss of his daughter by writing personal letters to death, time, and love in order to form a personal connection with the universe (as well as to seek answers about his daughter’s death). Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, and Keira Knightley are among the film’s stars.
IndieWire’s Jude Dry pointed out that the film’s cast is a “waste of talent,” writing that watching Mirren “play all of the parts” would be “more fun than watching Will Smith crying on a bike for two hours.”
Read on for more of Dry’s take on the film as well as thoughts from other critics.
Jude Dry (IndieWire)
“Seeing Smith play a failed father calls to mind the similarly heavy-handed The Pursuit of Happyness, the 2006 film that earned Smith an Oscar nomination that year. That movie at least tackled the somewhat noble goal of depicting the true story of a man struggling to raise himself out of poverty and homelessness. With the bizarre way Whit and his crew talk about numbers and money, Collateral Beauty is just another story about spoiled rich people.”
Owen Gleiberman (Variety)
“The trouble with Collateral Beauty, though, isn’t the actors. It’s the movie itself, which keeps piling on the devices until it becomes top-heavy. A decade ago, in The Pursuit of Happyness, [Will] Smith proved he had the stuff to make a down-and-out character stingingly authentic, but in Collateral Beauty, when he gets all red-rimmed and teary, it feels like the actor’s showcase it is, because the film’s whole experience of suffering is engineered. Instead of using its metaphysical-deception plot as a conduit to genuine emotion, it just pushes the gimmickry further, suggesting that there’s a secret reason why [Helen] Mirren, [Kiera] Knightley, and [Jacob] Latimore are so good at leading Smith’s wounded hero to a better place.”
David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Even if it hadn’t come along so soon after Manchester By the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan’s symphonic drama about a father emotionally crippled by loss, Collateral Beauty would look like silly high-concept Hollywood grief porn. That’s not to say David Frankel’s all-star weepie doesn’t work on its own manipulative terms, spreading its trail of goopy sentiment and inspirational homilies with technical finesse and some decent acting against the picturesque backdrop of New York City in the holidays. Audiences unconcerned about their sugar levels might eat it up.”
Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
“This horrifyingly yucky, toxically cutesy ensemble dramedy creates a Chernobyl atmosphere of manipulative sentimentality, topped off with an ending which M Night Shyamalan might reject as too ridiculous. This isn’t Frank Capra. It is emotional literacy porn, like an aspirational self-help bestseller written by Keyser Söze. At the end of it, I screamed the way polar bears are supposed to when they get their tongues frozen to the ice.”
Dan Callahan (The Wrap)
“An all-star cast submits to flagrant actor abuse in Collateral Beauty, which is every bit as lame as its title. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, this is a movie where we watch Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Naomie Harris, Keira Knightley and several other fine players bore holes in themselves so that we can watch the sap run out.”
Alan Scherstuhl (Village Voice)
“[Smith is] really convincing as someone who doesn’t want to be there. It’s the kind of serious performance you sometimes see from Adam Sandler or Robin Williams when they mistake ‘seriousness’ for giving us nothing.”
Stephen Whitty (New York Daily News)
“The rest of the actors are only passable, though, and Keira Knightley has turned into a parody of herself — eyes perpetually wide and sideways, mouth slightly open. Really, she has one expression throughout the entire movie: Embarrassed disbelief. Perhaps that was her reaction to reading the script.”