Will Smith's newest film could a heartwarming, holiday classic that will turn up on the Christmas play list every year Like "Miracle on 34th Street", "A Christmas Carol", or "The Bishop's Wife". That's what it could have been. I'm guessing that is what Allan Loeb had in mind when he wrote the story.


But somewhere along the production route, either before or after competent director Dave Frankel ("The Devil Wears Prada", "Marley & Me", "Hope Springs") got hold of it, the story became a nonsensical turdlet that wastes some of the best talent in Hollywood. If you're making a decision to see it based on the trailer, you will be sadly disappointed.

The story revolves around a marketing CEO named Howard (Smith) who is trying desperately to come to terms with the death of his young child. He's not doing a very good job of it, repeatedly writing letters to the spiritual concepts of death, love and time. While he's doing that, he immerses himself into the construction of complex domino chains. However, neither activity is productive to his company and it starts losing money big time.


This is a huge concern for his partners Whit (Ed Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Pena) who are watching their investment waste away while Howard wastes away. When they hack into his computer and find out to whom he is writing these letters, Whit gets an idea of hiring three actors he met to impersonate Death, Time and Love with the purpose of either curing him or pushing him over the edge so they can wrest the company from him and return to making money.

So much for the heartwarming part, this is suddenly a film about corporate greed reaching into the realm of grief and insanity. The funny part is, that as the film progresses, we are suppose to look at Whit, Claire and Simon as heroes! Oh so fitting in the new Trump era.


The actresses hired to pose as the spirits Brigitte (Helen Mirren), Madeleine (Naomie Harris) and Amy (Kiera Knightley) are as ill prepared for their roles as Hillary Clinton was for running for president. There is nothing about their performances that are even remotely convincing and the entire idea is preposterous.


In fact the only one over emoting throughout the film is Smith who seems like he is hell bent on proving to the world that he would make a fine and dandy serious actor; that "Ali" wasn't all that he had going for him.


To that end, a whooping $36 million was shelled out to finance this mess so that Will could be surrounded by a cast of legit talent. Meanwhile deserving films like "Loving" ($9 million), "Queen of Katwe" ($15 million), and "Fences" ($30 million) had to struggle to raise funds to get produced. Ultimately Warner Brothers is throwingthis one under the "Star Wars" bus as it opens against Disney's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"; when it fails it will be the levrage the WB has been looking for to finally silence Smith's claim about his box office value.


It's hard to believe that Frankel was thinking clearly when he took on this project, I'd be shocked if there were many adjustments made to the screenplay. So did this read better that it translates to the screen? I'm doubting that.


"Collateral Beauty" has few redeeming values aside from it's ability to get made and presumably all the talent getting paid! Disappointing to say the least; it makes you look forward to Denzel and Viola!   -- GEOFF BURTON