Stars: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Michael Peña, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Naomie Harris, Jacob Latimore, Kylie Rogers.
Director: David Frankel
Screenplay: Allan Loeb
I don't think this deserves 3 stars but I'm going to give it 3 anyway. This is a nothing special movie that wastes the talents of its stars, but it did one thing right and that is make me tear up, it really is the quintessential element that makes a mediocre holiday movie.
The film is about a man who loses his six year old daughter which makes him spiral into an intense depression. Howard (Will Smith) runs an advertising firm that is now in a financial crisis as he is not up to the task to keep his clients work. His team, Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet), and Simon (Michael Peña) have tried everything to help Howard through this hard time but now need his vote to sell the company to keep it afloat. While they are trying to help their colleague and friend heal, Howard is writing to Death (Helen Mirren), Love (Keira Knightley), and Time (Jacob Latimore) in anger over them taking away his daughter. Then one day they show up to answer his letters...
There are quite a few elements working against this film and it mainly comes down to too many perspectives and storylines. This film is about Howard's loss and Smith technically plays the main character yet there is a whole segment of the film that lasts for maybe 15 minutes that he is not in. In fact there is no real scene with Howard until say 40 minutes into the film. There is a lot of talking about him, telling us what he has gone through instead of showing or letting us put the pieces together. It makes the overall film clunky and confused and altogether offensive that the grieving father rarely has a voice in his own story.
There is great sentiment here but it could have been cleaner in its delivery. If you could cut through the plodding of the piece the messages could be quite striking; sometimes when you are helping others with their issues you are helping yourself, that kind of stuff.
This is by far not a good film, but its not terrible either but it could have definitely been better. If it was better then it may have landed on my annual Christmas watchlist.