New Movie Review: Al Pacino is a Rock Star in 'Danny Collins' Movie

 Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner, Annette Bening and Christopher Plummer make a great team in DANNY COLLINS. Best known for his aggressive and loud roles as The Godfather, Tony Montana (Scarface) and the guy who says "Hooah" in Scent of a Woman,  Al Pacino turns in a very subtle performance, but still maintains his big screen presence. As Danny Collins, he is rich, famous and indulges in cocaine, but he's unsatisfied with the direction his career took after writing a catchy tune that's defined his career.   Danny's anthem is a chart-topper called "Hey Baby Doll" which is reminiscent of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." At his concerts, his fans demand he sing the song all the time which he unhappily obliges. A long-lost letter from John Lennon to Collins changes his perspective, and he decides to write a song that's true to him and make things right with the son he never met played by Bobby Cannavale.

Director and writer Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love & Tangled) based DANNY COLLINS real-life musician and songwriter Steve Tilston who received a long-lost letter from ex-Beatle John Lennon encouraging the artist that is is possible to stay true to his art while also being rich and famous. That prompted Fogelman's imagination and conceived Al Pacino as an aging-Neil Diamond type who regrets being a sell out and not following his true ambitions.

DANNY COLLINS could have easily turned into a Lifetime movie with the family drama that ensues, but writer/director Dan Fogelman maintains integrity of the characters throughout, and offers a slice of life story that tugs at your heart with Pacino's character doing most of the tugging as a screwed up guy with a heart of gold.

While Pacino forces his way into his son's life and woos Annette Bening unsuccessfully, John Lennon classics like “Beautiful Boy” and “Give Peace a Chance” play in the background as the score. Not only are the lyrics fitting for many of the scenes, but it's nostalgic to be reminded that this talented voice was silenced way too early.

The talented Annette Bening is sorely missed on screen so it's delightful to see her opposite another formidable actor like Pacino. Their chemistry is off the chart, and according to Pacino’s co-star Jennifer Garner she revealed during our interview that Pacino was smitten with Bening on set as was the whole crew. The viewer also falls for the hard to get hotel manager.

Bobby Cannavale and Pacino are close in real life which ended up paying off on screen as father and son, and Jennifer Garner although in a supporting role leaves a mark on the story as the strong wife and daughter-in-law.  

Pacino takes to the mic to sing his own songs, and it takes a while to get used to his vocals, but it seems fitting given that his on screen persona dreads singing his classic hit.  

DANNY COLLINS was thoroughly enjoyable, and you leave the theater with a good feeling that a quality movie doesn’t have to be all noise, but a simple slice of life story. DANNY COLLINS is playing in limited release in New York City and Los Angeles, and will expand in coming weeks.


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