Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Danny Collins: Movie Review


Family drama that charms with some comedy.
The movie opens with “The following is kind of based on a true story a little bit.” The true story is that British folk singer Steve Tilston received a letter from John Lennon 34 years after he sent it, and didn't know of its existence until the twilight of his career. This movie is not about Tilston's story. This movie takes the premise of Tilston's story and applies it to the fictional Danny Collins. 2015

Directed by: Dan Fogelman

Screenplay by: Dan Fogelman

Starring: Al Pacino

Al Pacino stars as Danny Collins in Dan Fogelman's drama
DANNY COLLINS, an Elevation Pictures release.
Al Pacino stars as Danny Collins. A famous rock star now in his 70s and still cashing in on his success from 40 years ago. He's well past his prime but still drinking and doing drugs as if he was in his prime, and hitting on women half his age as if he was half his age. He's living the typical rock star life and has been doing so for 40 years. The movie introduces him as he's just starting out, on the precipice of fame and fortune doing an interview for Time magazine. At this point he's getting compared to John Lennon as a song-writing talent. Fast forward to now and he's on the stage charming audiences à la a current Neil Diamond or Rod Stewart. His hit song “Hey, Baby Doll” also sounds eerily similar to Diamond's staple “Sweet Caroline”.

But Danny's not happy, and he doesn't know what to do with his life until John Lennon's letter arrives telling him that success doesn't have to change who you are. Danny is pondering Lennon's advice about not letting yourself get corrupted by fame and money as he is standing in front of a giant billboard of himself promoting his 3rd Greatest Hits album. And so he changes his life in one fell swoop. Notably meeting his grown son for the first time. There are earlier actions too and they are pretty funny.

Bobby Cannavale, Giselle Eisenberg and
Jennifer Garner star in Dan Fogelman's drama
DANNY COLLINS, an Elevation Pictures release.
The film does become a family drama, but luckily it does so with comedy first and really efficient scenes because we all know where the movie is headed. Al Pacino is in full-on swagger mode delivering witty one-liners, flirting with every girl in the movie, playing match-maker with two young hotel employees, and charming everybody he meets because he's Danny Collins. Of course his new-found family doesn't take as kindly to his 'finding himself' adventure so he'll have to try and buy their love.

Annette Bening plays Danny Collins' slightly more age-appropriate love interest but they don't have the same “pitter-patter” that their characters insist they share. But his family is pretty entertaining. His son Tom (Bobby Cannavale) wants nothing to do with him, daughter-in-law Samantha (Jennifer Garner) would love Tom to get to know him but is stuck in between the two, and granddaughter Hope (Giselle Eisenberg) is a young, hyper-active, ADHD child who loves that Danny's from the TV but also spouts some of the things her father has said. She provides a lot of humour in the early moments of the family drama.

The drama aspect gets tiring, but Danny Collins will charm you since he never stops trying.

Similar Titles:

Woman in Gold (2015) - Succeeds in telling a story that's interesting.

St. Vincent (2014) - Predictability outweighs the comedy and drama of “St. Vincent”.