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Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Reviewed by on Dec 15, 2016
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw the inspiring Will Smith Holiday movie Collateral Beauty. Can a person move on after a horrible personal loss? Can grief ever morph into something beautiful? Check our movie review!

By: Lynn Barker

In Collateral Beauty (meaning the upbeat things you can find even in a horrible situation), Howard Inlet (Will Smith), head of a successful NYC ad agency, lives a joyless life after losing his six-year-old daughter to a rare disease. Can his letters to three entities that most affected him (Death, Love and Time) help him create a decent future?

Death (Helen Mirren) shows Howard his letterDeath (Helen Mirren) shows Howard his letterCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Barely Living

Once vital ad agency creative exec Howard is practically living life in a catatonic state. It’s two years after the death of his six-year-old daughter due to a rare disease and he goes to his office but doesn’t even speak to his friends/colleagues or care that they are losing a major client due to his zoned-out disinterest. His partner Whit (Edward Norton) is ready to sell before they go under but Howard controls most of the stock and they can’t sell without his agreement.

Howard (Will Smith) writes letters to Death, Time and LoveHoward (Will Smith) writes letters to Death, Time and LoveCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Love (Keira Knightley) talks with Whit (Edward Norton)Love (Keira Knightley) talks with Whit (Edward Norton)

Declare Howard Incompetent?

When no amount of talking to Howard about impending doom will shake him out of his grief/funk, Whit along with co-workers Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Pena), desperately and reluctantly hire a private eye (Ann Dowd) to build a case that Howard is just plain nuts and too unstable to vote his own shares. She learns that Howard has been writing letters to Death, Time and Love, three entities he now hates, as part of expressing his grief.

Simon, Whit and Claire talk with the private detectiveSimon, Whit and Claire talk with the private detectiveCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Time (Jacob Latimore) talks with Claire (Kate Winslet)Time (Jacob Latimore) talks with Claire (Kate Winslet)Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Plan

Whit, Claire and Simon hire three struggling actors to play the roles of Death (Helen Mirren), Love (Keira Knightley) and Time (Jacob Latimore). They will confront Howard and hopefully answer his questions about loss and meaning and draw him out of grief or the group will have to video him talking to these people and then edit them out. They will then have a video to “prove” that Howard is talking to people who aren’t there and is too wacko to control his shares in the company and block the sale deal.  

Actors portray Death (Helen Mirren), Love (Keira Knightley) and Time (Jacob Latimore)Actors portray Death (Helen Mirren), Love (Keira Knightley) and Time (Jacob Latimore)Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Howard is Trying

Howard tries to participate in a grief group for parents who have lost children but just can’t seem to say a word. Kind and beautiful leader of the group, Madeleine (Naomie Harris) tries to help but it’s not going well. Meanwhile we learn that Whit, Claire and Simon all have their own big personal problems. Can Howard’s exchanges with the actors actually help him and, by any chance, can what they say also aid his colleagues?

Grief counselor Madeleine tries to help HowardGrief counselor Madeleine tries to help HowardCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Wrapping Up

Collateral Beauty walks a thin line between “sappy” and serious, heartfelt sincerity. Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life could easily be called “sappy” but it is a holiday staple. I enjoyed Collateral Beauty for many reasons; it does have some humor, it provides hope in a time when our world is full of doubt and uncertainty, all the performances are beautiful, especially Will showing his dramatic acting capabilities and the awesome Helen Mirren portraying Death with humor and great wit and the film has a fantasy element which is always magical in my book.  There are some twists in the story that are fun. I guessed one right away but the other?  Not so much.

Howard freaks when Love introduces herselfHoward freaks when Love introduces herselfCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Collateral Beauty is not a movie for younger tweens or little children. A lot of smart teens, however, could have the patience to get into the story and (big spoiler), you come out with a warm and fuzzy feeling that will make you want to look for the good and “beauty” in every situation, even a very bad one. No matter what your beliefs about Death, Love and the influence of Time are, you can connect to this movie. For a thinking and feeling person’s holiday film, we go four stars.

Collateral Beauty Movie Rating: 4

Collateral Beauty PosterCollateral Beauty PosterCourtesy of Warner Bros.

See Collateral Beauty in theaters this Friday December 16th!


Have Your Say

Do you like Will Smith movies even when he isn’t playing an action hero? Do you like holiday movies with warm and fuzzy endings? Leave a comment.