“Collateral Beauty” is a manipulative weeper of a film that pours on the tragedies, but it’s boosted in one sense by a grade-A cast of Oscar winners and nominees.
Will Smith stars as Howard, an advertising hotshot in a firm with his best bud Whit (Edward Norton). Howard is one of those movie bosses, energizing and charismatic, giving speeches that no real person could ever deliver off the cuff. After his daughter dies, he’s beyond distraught, and it’s killing his business. He just sits around, building massive domino structures and writing letters to Love, Death and Time.
To try and reach Howard, Whit (along with two other executives played by Kate Winslet and Michael Peña) hire actors (played by Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Jacob Latimore) to portray those abstract concepts.
Meanwhile, the film pours on the tacky sentimentality as it layers on tragedy after tragedy. The biggest tragedy of all, of course, is the total wasting of such a talented cast.
The concept is as ludicrous as it sounds, and even when the film gets a chance to make bold choices, it instead wimps out with a bad, nonsensical ending.