A lot of trailers lie for pretty sensible marketing reasons. Maybe an actor cast in a small role has a huge uptick in popularity, and the studio wants to highlight the cameo. Or maybe the movie tested poorly at advance screenings, and the filmmakers just want to make a quick buck before word of mouth ruins everything. Collateral Beauty doesn't have those problems; instead, it's just an insane movie that no trailer could successfully summarize.
At first glance, it seems like fairly standard late-period Will Smith fare: a family man, Howard Inlet, is afflicted with a tragedy that gives Smith the chance to chew through some dramatic scenes. There's some weirdness about Howard writing letters to Death, Time, and Love, but once we see them actually showing up to teach Howard to love again, everything seems to make sense. It's Will Smith doing A Christmas Carol!
Nope. It's all an elaborate ruse concocted by Howard's friends, who've hired actors to play the personifications of Death, Time, and Love—and plan to secretly film him talking to these people, then edit the actors out of the footage to make Howard seem insane so they can take control of his business. How are these actors so gifted, yet totally unrecognizable to everyone in the movie, and completely okay with this insane scheme? Turns out they actually are the abstract concepts Howard was writing to—they were just pretending to be actors in order to teach Howard's "friends" a lesson.