Friday, February 23, 2018
Things To Do

Review: Will Smith's 'Collateral Beauty' looks meaningful but really is shallow nonsense

Collateral Beauty should win some kind of award for Best Execution of a Truly Dreadful Concept. Chock-a-block with magnetic movie stars and shot beautifully by talented cinematographer Maryse Alberti, all twinkling lights and Christmas in the city, it looks like an important and meaningful film. That's all smoke and mirrors. Stars and cinematography can't save the story, which is a misguided tale filled with armchair philosophizing and ultimately meaningless twists.

It feels as though screenwriter Allan Loeb thought up the term "collateral beauty," thought it was neat, and then reverse-engineered a story where the characters could say "collateral beauty" a lot. "Look for the collateral beauty," they say. Does that refer to Mr. Rogers' idea of looking for the helpers in a crisis? Not really, nope. It's a phrase that seems like something the teenage Wes Bentley from American Beauty would have invented while chasing a plastic bag down the street with a camcorder.

Will Smith plays Howard, "poet philosopher of product," or as we would say, an advertising executive, who gives inspiring but empty speeches to his staff demanding to know "what is your why?" and blabbing about the "three abstractions" of love, time and death. That's what advertising is all about, baby.

The death of his child sends him into a downward spiral, until he's nearly catatonic, leading a life of angry bicycling, extensive domino set ups, and letter writing to Love, Time and Death. This regime is obviously not great for business, so his partners (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena) decide the best course of action is to shakedown his majority voting shares by proving he's mentally incompetent to make decisions. They hire a private eye (Ann Dowd), and the strangest theater company of all time, Brigitte (Helen Mirren), Amy (Keira Knightley) and Raffi (Jacob Latimore) to pretend to be the three abstractions and confront Howard on the street. This plan, it's cockamamie.

The far more interesting movie would be the one that explains just how Brigitte and Raffi came to be in a theater company together, but alas, the plot skitters around as we watch Howard emerge from his fugue state. This "devastated and unstable" vibe is not Smith's best zone as an actor, so it begs the question why he still chooses these cheesy, quasi-uplifting, high-concept projects such as Seven Pounds or The Pursuit of Happyness every few years.

There's never any real definition of "collateral beauty," just some vague aphorisms that "we are all connected." But the movie, obsessed with its own twists and inane mysticism, essentially robs the meaning from that idea. If the film explored how strangers and loved ones managed to overcome emotional obstacles and learn things from each other, that would be poignant. Instead we have a demented tapestry of bizarre interactions and strange choices that results in a bigger picture that reveals absolutely nothing at all.

Perhaps the idea was this half-baked from the get-go, or maybe the film was edited within an inch of its life and lost all meaning. Whatever the case, for all of its faux-deep gesturing, Collateral Beauty is much more shallow nonsense than anything else.

Comments

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: Rinnai 250 qualifying9 a.m.FS1Trucks: Active Pest Control 200 qualifying10:30 a.m.FS1Xfinity: Rinnai 2502 p.m.FS1Trucks: Active Pest Control 2004:30 p.m.FS1Baseball, spring trainingRays at Red Sox1 p.m.MLB;620-AMWhite Sox at Marine...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Some ideas for things to do outside in spring

Some ideas for things to do outside in spring

Updated: 8 hours ago
Annihilation' is strange, beautiful biological mystery

Annihilation' is strange, beautiful biological mystery

Updated: 9 hours ago
SoundBytes: The Shadowboxers, Lit, O-Town, Saba, Wolfgang Gartner and more

SoundBytes: The Shadowboxers, Lit, O-Town, Saba, Wolfgang Gartner and more

— The Shadowboxers will open for their mentor Justin Timberlake on May 15 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. You might remember the pop-rock group from their several performances around the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship game in Tam...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Top things to do on Friday

Top things to do on Friday

Here are our editors picks for things to do on Feb. 23.
Updated: 9 hours ago
Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

TAMPA — Could your 4-year-old be the next Lulu? A touring Broadway show wants to find out. Waitress, which runs April 24-29 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is looking for a local 4- to 5-year old to play a small but c...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Top things to do on Friday, Feb. 23

Top things to do on Friday, Feb. 23

Blast Friday: The Romantics: The family-friendly food and craft vendor festival featuring a free live concert and a beer garden. 5:30 p.m., 400 Block of Cleveland Street, Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, Clearwater. Free. (727) 464-7200. Pasco C...
Published: 02/23/18
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Good Girls,’ catch up on ‘Heathers’ and ‘Jessica Jones’

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Good Girls,’ catch up on ‘Heathers’ and ‘Jessica Jones’

Nude zombie alert: The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead isn't slowing down anytime soon. The hit zombie series returns for the second half of its eighth season Sunday and AMC recently announced it was renewed for a ninth. In this season's first eight epi...
Published: 02/23/18
The Florida Orchestra taps composer Michael Ippolito to capture the state’s sound

The Florida Orchestra taps composer Michael Ippolito to capture the state’s sound

ST. PETERSBURG — The composer sat in semi-darkness, his hand drifting like a slow pendulum at his side. On the Mahaffey Theater stage, the violins led a creaking and mysterious journey through a cypress swamp, the inspiration for the first movement.T...
Published: 02/23/18
Author Allison Winn Scotch gives a nod to Steven King

Author Allison Winn Scotch gives a nod to Steven King

NightstandAllison Winn ScotchScotch, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of several novels. Her newest, Between Me and You, set in Los Angeles, is the story of Ben and Tatum, a couple whose marriage is unraveling, due perhaps ...
Published: 02/23/18