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So, Will Smith's New Movie "Collateral Beauty" Is Really Bad

"Every so often there comes a movie so tasteless, so nakedly pandering, so bodaciously ill conceived that you’ve got to see it to believe it."

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It has a powerful trailer, a star-studded supporting cast — Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Naomie Harris, and Ed Norton to name a few — and some of the most hilariously terrible reviews in recent memory.

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With a whopping 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it's clear that it's hardly Academy Awards bait.

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No single review sums up the sheer WTF-ness of the flick, which, on the surface, is about a broken man named Howard (Smith) who can't move past the death of his young daughter. But be warned: There are "twists." So, here are excerpts from some of the most entertaining ones (warning: some spoilers ahead):

Many of the words that I would like to use to describe this waste of talent and time, which riffs on Dickens’s eternal A Christmas Carol and tries to manufacture feeling by offing Tiny Tim, can’t be lobbed in a family publication. So, instead, I will just start by throwing out some permissible insults: artificial, clichéd, mawkish, preposterous, incompetent, sexist, laughable, insulting.

—Manohla Dargis, the New York Times

Every so often there comes a movie so tasteless, so nakedly pandering, so bodaciously ill conceived that you’ve got to see it to believe it. This year, that movie is Collateral Beauty. [...] Pinpointing one fatal flaw in Collateral Beauty is impossible — the transgressions pile up like a trash heap of Christmas miracles.

—Stephanie Zacharek, Time

At numerous points throughout Collateral Beauty, I simply threw up my hands in exasperation at how stupid and lifeless it was. [...] Maybe Collateral Beauty is missing an hour of footage or something, but I’m more willing to bet somebody read a first draft of the movie’s script, convinced Will Smith to sign on, and then said, “Put some Christmas lights on everything. We’ll release it in December. It’ll be fine.”

—Todd VanDerWerff, Vox

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?" [...] They will shake their heads. They will say you're making it up. You may wonder if it's you who was gaslit, in that theater. Could this have been an actual movie? Aren't the people who make movies people, too?

—Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

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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 Republic ballad, "Let’s Hurt Tonight," provides exit music.

—Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com

At least Norton finally gets to play a character named Whit, which has somehow not happened already.

—Emily Yoshida, New York Magazine

If there’s one constant about Collateral Beauty, it’s how consistently it disappoints.

—James Berardinelli, ReelViews

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Back when Howard ruled the ad world, he used to ask the question: "What is your why?" — certainly another good reason to hate him. After seeing Collateral Beauty, my "why" is to warn you off the time-and-money suck of this cinematic equivalent of coal and wood. It's enough to make Scrooges of us all.

—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

It’s quite possible Collateral Beauty will move you to tears. Then again, it’s quite possible you’ve been moved to tears by commercials about dogs that befriend horses, viral videos where students surprise a retiring teacher with a musical tribute and/or violently yanking out one of your own nose hairs.

All three of those examples go about earning your emotions in a more legitimate way than this nonsense.

—Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

The Will Smith weepie Collateral Beauty couldn’t be more calculated and manipulative if it slapped you on the back, shoved a giant lollipop into your mouth and immediately tried to sell you a time share in Tampa.

—Kyle Smith, New York Post

Somewhere in a forest, a maple tree wants all its sap back.

—Mara Reinstein, Us Weekly

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