DANNY COLLINS – Review by Susan Granger

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“Danny Collins” is an unexpected delight! Al Pacino delivers his best performance in years as an aging rocker whose life is changed when he’s given a letter sent to him – back in 1971 – by John Lennon. Although he hasn’t written anything decent in decades, Danny still tours, captivating senior-citizen audiences with his hits from yesteryear. Disillusioned, he hates the schlocky tunes but he’s got to support his cocaine habit and luxurious lifestyle. Read on…

Danny’s dazzling “Architectural Digest”-type home in Beverly Hills includes a glass elevator and a blonde bimbo less-than-half-his-age in residence. He’s obviously into self-destructive debauchery.

But when his best friend/manager (Christopher Plummer) presents him with this unexpected fan letter from his idol, the late John Lennon – a handwritten artifact hidden for years by a collector – Danny is forced to take stock not only of what his hedonistic life has become but what he may have missed.

Seeking redemption, Danny moves into the Hilton Woodcliff Lake in suburban New Jersey, just to be near the modest home that belongs to his estranged son, the result of a one-night stand 40 years ago.

Now a construction worker, Tom (Bobby Cannavale) was raised by his single mother who has since died of cancer – and he wants nothing to do with Danny. But his placid, pregnant wife (Jennifer Garner) and precocious, ADHD-afflicted daughter (Gabrielle Eisenberg) are intrigued by this generous stranger on their doorstep.

Meanwhile, the Hilton’s proper, pragmatic manager (Annette Bening) also figures in Danny’s plans, prompting him to begin to compose again. He even books a gig in a small lounge to try out his new songs. Of course, complications arise and Danny’s ‘comeback’ is not as simple as he’d hoped.

Supposedly inspired by a true story, it marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Dan Fogelman (“Last Vegas,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love”). Working with decidedly mediocre material, Al Pacino elevates it above the mundane, achieving a strong, if contrived emotional connection that’s augmented by a soundtrack of John Lennon songs, including “Imagine” and “Working Class Hero.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Danny Collins” is an engaging 8. It’s captivating entertainment.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.