Even death has no time for Will Smith’s Oscar attempt

Even death has no time for Will Smith’s Oscar attempt

If I want to indulge in some Christmas treats, I’d prefer the real thing over this treacle. It’s like having high fructose corn syrup via an IV. Unpleasant, and, definitely not good for you. This movie shamelessly tugs at your heart, something it has no business doing, even if Will Smith is trying for an Oscar nomination — again. So, fair warning: I’m about to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on this one.

Smith plays Howard, a highly successful owner of a New York ad agency. It’s a cool place to work with a lot of cool people looking busy, like they’re doing advertising things. And Howard is a cool boss who likes to gather the troops, as he does at the beginning of this movie, to discuss advertising concepts. Well, not discuss, really. It’s more like a blathering of pithy platitudes about what links mankind together. Namely, death, time and love.

Let’s put that theory to the test: I see one of Howard’s ads for a garden hose. I won’t die if I don’t buy it. There’s no set time I need to buy it and I’m certainly not in love with it. But on the other hand, if I don’t buy it, the grass will die. So I better buy it now because the grass probably needs water, and I’m loving that I don’t have a front yard off crunchy brown stuff.

Okay. Maybe Howard is on to something. But fast forward several years and Howard is now more like a weepy, walking zombie due to the death of his young daughter. He’s given up on his ad business, a huge concern to his partners, played by Edward Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena. He’s closed himself off and writes letters to death, time and love as if they were corporeal muses instead of abstracts.

In order to have him declared non compos mentis for his own good, the three conspire to hire a trio of actors played by Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly and Jacob Latimore to act as these three things and confront Howard so he can be filmed, the proof they need to remove him as head of the agency — after they’ve doctored the film to remove the actors so Howard will appear as if he’s talking to himself.

There is a lot of wasted talent as Allen Loeb’s script doesn’t allow anyone to have much screen time. Almost all involved, except young Latimore, are either Oscar nominees or, in Mirren’s and Winslet’s case, have already won Oscars. So why the heck are they wasting their time in this?

It’s hard to imagine that director David Frankel, who is responsible for “The Devil Wears Prada,” also directed this. Even the city background shots seemed more vibrant in that, whereas here they are indistinguishable from any other town except for the overhead shots of Central Park. And it’s something of an oversight that these some of these scenes don’t reflect that this takes place just before Christmas — as in no decorations in sight.

To sum this up — I was bored to death. It was a waste of my time. And I for sure didn’t love it.

Bah, humbug.