Danny Collins is a film about a famous musician who is getting old and trying to go back and correct some of his missteps. It stars Al Pacino as the titular character with a solid supporting cast and a more realistic story than you’d typically expect from this kind of film. It still features your typical feel-good moments, but there’s also a harsh reality that grounds the film and allows it to become more than just another feel-good movie.
Al Pacino is joined by Bobby Cannavale playing Pacino estranged son, Tom Donnelly. You’ve also got Donnelly’s wife, Samantha, played by Jennifer Garner and his daughter Hope (Giselle Eisenberg). Christopher Plummer pops in as Collins’ manager and best friend, Frank Grubman, and then you have a few interesting characters that make up the hotel staff where Collins resides for most of the film. Annette Bening as hotel manager, Mary Sinclair and her staff members Jamie (Melissa Benoist) and Nicky (Josh Peck).
Most of the film centers around Collins trying to find his way again. After receiving a letter from John Lennon that was written 40 years prior, he decides to turn his life around by canceling his tour and making amends with his son. As you might expect, Tom wants nothing to do with his father and the tension builds between Collins and the Donnelly family.
The film begins as you might expect. There’s a lot of tension broken by a few funny moments and some heart-warming displays of emotion. It’s how the film grows from that point on that really defines this movie. Things happen that cause even more tension and bring the film down to a more relatable level. Without spoiling anything, there are some relationships in the film that never get resolved. The film ends with enough closure to satisfy most audiences, but it doesn’t wrap everything up in a nice little bow.
There are people in the film who you expect to connect after the credits role. There are events that you hope will take place, but you never know for sure. These uncertainties help the film to feel more realistic. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching a fantasy unfold before your eyes. Instead there are real problems and no easy solutions, even for a famous musician with a fair amount of money to throw around.
Aside from Al Pacino, who turns in a solid performance, Annette Bening steals most of the scenes she’s in. The interactions between Danny Collins and Mary Sinclair help to even out the emotional rollercoaster that fills many of the scenes she’s not in. Likewise, you don’t see much of Christopher Plummer’s character, but he brings a smile to your face with almost every line, whether he’s berating Collins or offering advice on life he is definitely a highlight.
Danny Collins isn’t a typical music-based film. There aren’t a lot of songs and the songs that are included aren’t overly memorable. This more about the story of a family and a father trying to put his life back together with the people he meets along the way. It’s not the best film you’ll see this year, but it won’t be the worst either. It has a great balance that brings a lot of entertainment in unexpected ways.
Danny Collins:[usr 4]
About Danny Collins
Synopsis: An aging rock star decides to change his life when he discovers a 40-year old letter written to him by John Lennon.
Director: Dan Fogelman
Writers: Dan Fogelman
Stars: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner
Runtime: 106 Minutes