DANNY COLLINS – Review by Susan Granger
“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.