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Three Views: Danny Collins

April 10, 2015

Danny Collins Poster

Danny Collins – An Elevation Pictures Release!danny-collins/cfvg

Release Date: April 10th, 2015
Rated 14A for coarse language and substance abuse
Running Time: 107 minutes

Dan Fogelman (director)

Dan Fogelman (screenplay)

Ryan Adams (music)
Theodore Shapiro (music)

Al Pacino as Danny Collins
Bobby Cannavale as Tom Donnelly
Jennifer Garner as Samantha Leigh Donnelly
Giselle Eisenberg as Hope Donnelly
Christopher Plummer as Frank Grubman
Annette Bening as Mary Sinclair
Melissa Benoist as Jamie
Josh Peck as Nicky

Danny Collins

Danny Collins (Al Pacino) and Frank Grubman (Christopher Plummer) in Danny Collins.

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Danny Collins Review By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Danny Collins (Al Pacino) is an aging pop star who is increasingly dissatisfied with his affluent life of drugs and sex, and on a tour that is both sold out and a sellout, catering to old ladies who all want to hear the same song.  But when his manager (Christopher Plummer) gives him an undelivered letter that John Lennon wrote forty years earlier, encouraging him to stay true to his folk music roots, he feels guided to change his life.  Danny moves to a hotel in New Jersey, hoping to reconnect with his estranged adult son Tom (Bobby Cannavale).  But Tom has settled into a working class life with his wife (Jennifer Garner) and hyperactive daughter (Giselle Eisenberg), and is reluctant to accept his father’s help.

Loosely inspired by a true story, Danny Collins explores the affects of this undelivered letter in some interesting ways.  Although the film sometimes veers a little too far into sentimentalism and melodrama, it’s consistently redeemed by a nicely written screenplay that comes full circle in the perfectly staged final scene, and excellent performances across the board.  Al Pacino is excellent here and seems utterly rejuvenated in the title role, delivering his best work in years.  His scenes with Annette Bening, who has a charming supporting role as the hotel manager who catches his eye, allow them both to really come alive, and they have some wonderful interplay together.

There is equally solid chemistry between the rest of the cast.  Jennifer Garner has a few nice moments, and Bobby Cannavale delivers some of his finest dramatic work, in a career full of excellent supporting roles.  Even the bit players, like Melissa Benoist and Josh Peck who are immensely likeable as an adorable pair of hotel employees that Danny plays matchmaker for, elevate the material into something completely entertaining and sometimes even genuinely affecting.  And when’s the last time Christopher Plummer got to be this charming and funny?

Balancing the more heartfelt scenes with a few surprisingly solid laughs, Dan Fogelman has crafted a film that manages to be enjoyable throughout, all set to a nice selection of John Lennon songs.  But it’s the uniformly excellent ensemble cast that really makes Danny Collins worth seeing, effortlessly carrying this worthwhile music dramedy every step of the way.

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Danny Collins Review By Erin Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

With the basic premise inspired by a true story, Danny Collins follows the titular aging rocker (Al Pacino), who is about to go on tour again, playing the same songs that made him famous, and living the high life with drinks, drugs, and women.  Just before he leaves, his manager (Christopher Plummer) gives him a birthday present – a letter that was written to Danny forty years prior and lost for years.  The letter is from John Lennon.  In it, Lennon tells Danny to stay true to himself, and if he ever wants to talk that his number is below.

The letter, meant by his manager to be just a unique gift from the past, changes Danny’s life irreversibly.  He wonders what would have happened if he had read the letter when he was meant to, and if he would have let his career take a different path.  Having not written a new song in years, he cancels his tour – much to his managers dismay – and takes off to stay at an out of the way hotel where he can try to write again.  As his reputation follows him, he struggles to turn over a new leaf and start his life anew, including meeting his adult son (Bobby Cannavale) for the first time.

The film is well made and will play very well to its target audience.  While the story is a little cliché at times, the actors play it in such a way that I didn’t mind, with some of the quiet moments particularly well done.  Starting as a music film and becoming one about lost/regained chances and family, Danny Collins is a good film for a night out, inspired by an amazing story.  While it won’t lose much for those who wait for DVD, either way it’s worth a look.

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Danny Collins Review By Tony Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Danny Collins (Al Pacino) is a rock star who still fills arenas with fans that have aged with him. He hasn’t written a new song in thirty years, replaying his cheesy playlist of hits with predictable swagger, fuelled offstage by alcohol and cocaine. One day, his long-time manager and friend Frank (Christopher Plummer) brings a letter from John Lennon that he had never received, inspired by an interview (seen in an early flashback with Nick Offerman) Danny had given forty years prior as a serious singer-songwriter, encouraging him to remain true to his ideals. Danny decides to leave his trophy wife and her lover behind in his California mansion and fly to New Jersey to meet the son he had sired in a brief fling over thirty years ago, but had never met. He also wants to get clean and write some new songs. Despite his easy charm, Danny’s flirting is resisted by the local hotel manager Mary (Annette Bening).

When he shows up at his son’s house, Danny is met by Hope (Giselle Eisenberg), a vivacious granddaughter who immediately likes him and her mother Sam (Jennifer Garner) who is receptive but more wary. When the son Tom (Bobby Cannavale) comes home he is understandably hostile to Danny’s heartfelt remorse and belated attempts at some kind of relationship. Even using his wealth to get Hope into a private school is met with grudging acceptance, but a health crisis proves that there is no substitute for time spent together, however overdue.

The first feature directed by screenwriter Dan Fogelman, Danny Collins is worth seeing for its brilliant cast led by Pacino, getting the best out of a not quite so good but perfectly serviceable script.

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Consensus: With an excellent performance from Al Pacino in the title role, and a uniformly solid supporting cast, Danny Collins is a nicely written music dramady that offers an enjoyable balance of entertaining and heartfelt scenes. ★★★ (out of 4)

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