Danny Collins, rated R
Starring Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner, Christopher Plummer
Austin Family critical rating: 4 of 5 stars
As an aging rock star re-examining his entire life, Al Pacino is magnificent in Danny Collins. As the film opens, Danny learns from his longtime manager (Christopher Plummer) that his musical hero, John Lennon, wrote him a letter 40 years ago, encouraging him to stay true to his art.
The letter was never delivered, and Collins has since become an artistic sell-out, regurgitating the same songs for many years and never bothering to come up with new material. After receiving the letter, he begins an effort to reshape his life, starting by moving into a hotel in small-town New Jersey to visit his estranged son Tom (Bobby Cannavale) and his wife, Samantha (Jennifer Garner).
Danny Collins is delightful entertainment for adults, with some of the best actors in the business (Pacino, Bening, Plummer) giving their all to an immensely enjoyable comedy with enough dramatic weight to ground the movie in the right places.
It’s also a welcome return to film for the great Pacino, who has been giving great performances on Broadway over the past few years (in The Merchant of Venice and Glengarry Glen Ross) but has been largely absent from the big screen. His work here is delightful and easygoing – he even sings!
The movie hits its stride in the powerful scenes between Pacino and Cannavale, who are totally convincing as father and son, and a thrill to watch onscreen together. Meanwhile, Pacino and Bening (who the plays the manager of the hotel) have a charming courtship. For adults who lament the dearth of movies starring great actors that aren’t necessarily built to win awards, Danny Collins, though not a perfect film (some of the scenes with Pacino’s much younger wife don’t quite work), is a wonderful treat.
Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.