Al Pacino as a rock star? That’s the fact of the matter in the new film, Danny Collins, in which the Oscar-winning legend plays a musical superstar who is more into sex and drugs than in furthering his artistic ambition at this stage in his career. So does Pacino, singing for the first time on screen, pull this all off? You bet he does. And following last Fall’s Toronto Film Festival debuts of The Humbling and Manglehorn, this entertaining movie gives further proof to the revitalization of Pacino’s leading man career on screen.
And can he sing? As I say in my video review above, actually yes, and charmingly, in a Neil Diamond-style anthem written for the film called “Hey Baby Doll”. Pacino actually performed it in front of an unsuspecting capacity crowd at a Greek Theatre Chicago concert, and that’s what we see near the beginning of this film which marks screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s (Crazy Stupid Love, Last Vegas, The Guilt Trip) assured directing debut.
Fogelman based his smart script partially on a real-life story about a musician who gets a fan/advice letter from John Lennon forty years after it was written and supposed to be delivered to him. Fogelman takes the premise further, and in the case of Danny Collins it changes his life. He decides to stop his tour and check into a New Jersey hotel to reconnect with his own long-forgotten songwriting talent. He also wants to reconnect with his own family. That hotel is near the house of his long estranged son, played by Bobby Cannavale, who wants nothing to do with him despite Collins’ overtures, and urges him to stay away from his family (which includes his wife, a terrific Jennifer Garner, and their hyperactive daughter adroitly played by Giselle Eisenberg).
The film’s wonderful cast, in addition to Pacino, Cannavale and Garner, includes the great Christopher Plummer as Collins’ manager, and Annette Bening as the hotel manager who strikes up a friendship with Collins during his stay at the Hilton she runs. The film was produced by Jessie Nelson and Nimitt Mankad and is the first release from the new distributor, Bleecker Street. Shivani Rawat, Denise DiNovi, Declan Baldwin and Monica Levinson are executive producers of this winning movie for grownups.
Do you plan to see Danny Collins? Let us know what you think.