Director: Dan Fogelman
Cast: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Gardner, Christopher Plummer
Rating: R Running Time: 106 min.
Genre: Drama/Comedy, Music
A movie with elderly Pacino and Benning would generate high expectation from viewers, especially from critics. They are so good that their mere presence, especially if Pacino is playing a world famous rocker, would dictate the flow of the narration, a slight change in their facial expression working like a dialogue too. The added merit is that the actual dialogue in the movie is as sharp and savvy as these actors. “Danny Collins” is about finding true values in one’s twilight years; in Danny Collin’s case, a steep climb to redemption from four decades of a dissolute life.
Pacino plays the titular character, and Jimmy Collins is young and naive in the beginning. A recognized music prodigy, he shivers during the interview session because he was just told how his musical talent would usher in a life of riches, fame, and more women than he can possibly dalliance with. Then the movie jumps 40 years forward, and we meet Jimmy Collins in his 60s, snorting a powder of cocaine before he hits the stage, and his fans can barely wait for him to sing his hit song ‘Baby Doll.’ For four decades, he has lived a fast and loose life, one we commonly associate with heavy metal rockers who chant “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Rolls” as their life’s motto, but when his manager gives him a birthday present, in the form of a letter written by John Lennon four decades ago (Lennon wrote the letter after reading the interview mentioned earlier), he embarks upon to change his life, mainly by reconnecting with his long-lost son.
It is charming and romantic to conceive of a letter hand written and unsent for 40 years, especially so if it is written by such a legend as John Lennon. On the other hand, the idea is somewhat cheesy, especially as a torsion that twists his 40 years of unconstrained drug and sex life into a life of a saint who would help out his long-lost son’s family. Fortunately, the strong acting and sharp dialogue rescue the film and make it an entertaining movie, with the characters we can cheer on and care for. A few genuine laughs accompany the movie also.
More faults surface when I reflect upon the movie (with three failed marriage and countless backstage sex, he only has one child?), but the movie is never dull despite such. Pacino as a rocker is a sight to behold. The character’s attempt at second act in his late life is confronted with challenges (a life-long habit is not a yielder), but he forges on. With a story somewhat contrived yet entertaining and engaging nonetheless, “Danny Collins” will please any fans of Pacino, believers of redemptions, and aficionados of cool cars.