One of my favorite things about Christmas break, amongst many others, is going to the movies. Thankfully movie theaters are catching onto the fact that no, we don't want to pay almost $15 for a ticket. We'd rather go to Starbucks twice instead. Thanks to $6 Tuesday, going to the theater over break was much easier to justify. And one of my favorite feature films this Christmas was Collateral Beauty.

Critics were pretty harsh towards this film, describing it as a "mess", a "cynical weepie", and even a "waste of time and talent." I, however, couldn't disagree more. With a stellar cast like Will Smith, Kiera Knightley, Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet, I had pretty high expectations for this movie. And it didn't disappoint.

Here's a quick synopsis: Howard Inlet (Will Smith) is a successful entrepreneur who suffers the loss of his young daughter. Overcome by grief, he disconnects from life, unable to come terms with her death. He barely goes through the motions of everyday life; his body is present, but his mind isn't. He can't eat or sleep and he hardly even speaks. Howard writes and mails letters to Death, Love, and Time, not expecting answers but perhaps as a way to grieve. His concerned friends/business partners decide that getting answers from the "universe" could help him move on and provide closure. They hire three actors to portray each "character" and confront Howard as answers to his letters, hoping to restore his own hope and will to live.

I loved the originality of this movie and it is so rare to watch a film these days where every other word isn't an f-bomb. The plot kept me engaged from beginning to end, and clocking in at an hour and thirty-seven minutes, the film moves along at a nice pace. The ending caught me by surprise and they connected all the dots in a unique, creative way: there isn't much of a "predictability factor"...at least not for me! Though it's a heavier theme, there is still an appropriate balance of humor that doesn't disrespect the reality of death. The movie effectively combines a variety of themes, such as redemption, celebrating life, and seeking beauty amidst brokenness.

Usually when the critics hate a movie, I love it, and this was no exception. Definitely keep an eye for this movie in theaters, Redbox, iTunes, Amazon or however else you can watch movies these days! And hey, if you don't like it, come talk to me, and I'll give you a thousand reasons why you should.