Inspired by a true story, Danny Collins tells the story of ageing hard living rock star Danny Collins (Al Pacino) who discovers that 40 years ago John Lennon wrote him a letter with advice about how to handle fame. The letter advises him to ‘stay true’ to himself and his art, and inevitably causes Danny to reflect on how he has led his life and seek redemption before it is too late.
Within a day, he has ended his relationship with a money seeking younger woman, checked into a Hilton hotel in New Jersey, and contacted his estranged son to try to salvage something from their non existent relationship. There are few surprises in Danny Collins but it is a fun take on a familiar story with good performances all around.
The stellar performances ensure Danny Collins is an enjoyable romp. The predictable plot is saved by the strong focus on the Father and Son relationship which packs the emotional punch the film needs. Bobby Annavale is excellent as Danny’s son Tommy who although initially full of anger at his father’s absence from his childhood, finds himself becoming fond of Danny and his charming personality. Despite initially being told to disappear, Danny keeps appearing and doing things for Tommy and his family.
Al Pacino is a little over the top in the role and his singing voice is not great, but it’s easy to believe that years of hard drinking and drugs would damage even the best singing voice.
The soundtrack is dominated by John Lennon classics which work to remind you of Danny’s motivation and suggest the career Danny might have had if he had continued to write his own material, instead of selling out and singing songs he was told might be hits.
Danny Collins is nothing amazing and you’ve probably seen this story played out many times before, most recently Ricki and the Flash where Merly Streep was the rock star trying to reconnect with her children,but it’s heartwarming at times and entertaining enough. Wouldn’t seek it out, but worth a watch if you see it’s on.
Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Bobby Annavale
Dir: Dan Fogelman
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