review roundup

The Meanest Lines From the Collateral Beauty Reviews

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Will Smith in a scene from
Photo: Barry Wetcher/Warner Brothers

It seems that Collateral Beauty has managed the unthinkable: According to the reviews, the Will Smith holiday drama might actually be the single worst thing 2016 has to offer. Smith plays a grieving father who’s lost his daughter to terminal illness; Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, and Michael Peña are a trio of Smith’s frenemies who hatch a scheme to help him get over the loss, which involves recruiting actors to play intangible ideas like “time.” Puzzled as to how this group of stars managed to get mixed up in this emotional imbroglio, most critics had some hilariously mean things to say. These are the meanest:

“Here’s a promise few movies can make. If you sink two hours into Collateral Beauty now, it’s guaranteed that for the rest of your life, when conversation stalls, you can save the night by asking, “Did you ever see that movie where Will Smith plays an ad executive so shut down with grief over the death of his daughter that his business partners — played by Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Peña — hire actors to confront him in public in the roles of Death, Time, and Love, the abstract concepts to whom he has been penning and mailing angry letters?” — Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“Despite a few closing scenes that must be seen to be disbelieved, Collateral Beauty doesn’t sink to [Seven Pounds’s] appalling depths — which is another way of saying that in some ways, it fails to live up to its own terrible potential. This movie doesn’t rise to the level of so-bad-it’s-good. But no less impressively, perhaps, it’s just bad enough that you actually wish it were worse.” — Justin Chang, L.A. Times

“Sappier than a tree lot and just as wooden, Collateral Beauty wears its influences — primarily A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life — on the sleeve of its ugly holiday sweater, though the film never finds a glimmer of originality.” — Brian Truitt, USA Today

“It’s often as brooding, pensive and ‘profound’ as a sophomore philosophy major, and it only insists upon itself more from there. It’s not so much grating as trite. Nothing said is as revolutionary as it thinks, but it still wants you to stop and, like, really soak it in, man.” — Will Ashton, The Playlist

“It’s amusing for a while, watching these very talented people trying to sell this plotline (Winslet, in particular, just looks worried all the time, as well she might). But after a while, too many questions take over: Why are these actors rehearsing a play that will apparently never be performed? Why does Winslet’s character leave sperm-donor brochures out on her desk? Does anyone at this ad agency ever do any work? Did I actually just hear the line ‘Nothing is ever really dead if you look at it right’? Dame Helen, what are you doing in this thing? Collateral Beauty is only about an hour and a half long; it feels, despite the good company, like a lifetime.” — Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

You may be wondering what, exactly, the movie’s title means. Even though one character or another declaims the phrase at least four times — or is it fourteen? — I still have no idea. In this instance, does collateral mean extra stuff floating around? Or something pledged as security for repayment of a debt? Either way, it’s enough to make you wonder what you ever did in life to deserve such a movie.” — Stephanie Zacharek, Time

“I don’t think I’ve witnessed a film this year that managed to so completely and utterly collapse into crass garbage in its last few minutes while abusing what little good will it has. Sort of the way a shaky line of dominoes can tumble down in a flash. Forget Collateral Beauty, whatever that means. This is ‘Collateral Schmaltz,’ the kind that has the power to close rather than open your heart as you rush out of the theater while the terribly named One Direction ballad, ‘Let’s Hurt Tonight,’ [Note: The song is actually by OneRepublic] provides exit music.” — Susan Wloszczyna,

“It’s near impossible to make a movie with no redeeming features – but damned if Collateral Beauty doesn’t hits the zero-stars jackpot. The unholy mess that director David Frankel and screenwriter Allan Loeb have unleashed for the holidays strands an all-star cast on a sinking ship that churns the waters from absurd to zombified with frequent stops at pretentious.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Review Roundup: Collateral Beauty