By Megan Bianco
Even in the few decent movies he’s making these days, sometimes you have to wonder if Al Pacino’s just playing a loosely-scripted version of himself. A couple of months ago we saw him as an aging, depressed actor in Barry Levinson’s The Humbling. This month we get to see Pacino as a has-been rockstar who has lost practically all of his inspiration in Dan Fogelman’s Danny Collins.
Folk singer turned Top-40 superstar Danny Collins (Pacino) is turning 70 and hasn’t aged a bit emotionally since 1970. He still parties, sleeps with younger women and snorts cocaine. Naturally, Danny is unsatisfied by the shallow happiness he’s found. When his longtime manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) shows him a secret letter John Lennon wrote to Danny that popped up after 40 years, the musician is inspired to not only write new music but also to connect with his son (Bobby Cannavale), a boy he did not help raise.
Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner and Josh Peck co-star.
Screenwriter-director Fogelman has created a resume of family films and romantic comedies over the past decade but Danny Collins has a more mature, grown-up tone than his previous projects. There is romance between Pacino’s and Bening’s characters, a family plot between Pacino and Cannavale, and a soundtrack made up of Lennon and Danny’s “hits” written by Ryan Adams. Collins could’ve easily become bloated with content, but fortunately manages to stay steady despite some clichés in Danny’s characteristics and motives.
Fans of Pacino and/or Lennon will get the most enjoyment from this dramedy.
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