I just can’t help but wonder what a visiting race of extraterrestrials might make of the way that human grief is depicted in the new Will Smith drama Collateral Beauty. Since this film and the way it depicts grief is about as rooted in reality as, say, the latest Star Wars film, I would hope that an advanced race might look elsewhere if they were to attempt to find a clue to the experience of being human and the losses we must face. It certainly isn’t anywhere on display here.    Smith plays an ad executive whose six-year old daughter died of a glioblastoma (i.e., a brain tumor) and he can’t seem to move on. We know she died of this because the characters repeat the term roughly a dozen times during the film as if to alert the audience that they really aren’t smart enough to know what this is so they’ll have characters make mention of it every ten minutes to make sure audience members know.

The whole movie is an insult to anyone who’s lost a child with its annoying, platitude heavy dialogue. Come to think of it, it’s also an insult to any self-respecting moviegoer.     Smith’s colleagues in the film (Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Michael Pena) make attempts to shake him out of his doldrums by enlisting some member of a local acting ensemble, which includes Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren. It all rings hollow and there’s not a character to be found with any depth, making it hard to connect with anyone in the film on a human level. As a consequence, the whole cast is wasted, having been saddled with sub par material. If this is Smith’s attempt to nab an Oscar nomination he’s got a big surprise coming when the nominations are announced in roughly a month.

Will Smith & Helen Mirren in ‘Beauty’

 Collateral Beauty opens this Friday in Hickory. Write Adam at [email protected]