Of late it wouldn’t be unfair to say that acting legend Al Pacino has made some questionable decisions in which films he has involved himself with. Thankfully, 2015 appears to mark a turning point or as close as he’s going to get to a return to form at his age. He’s already taken part in classy ‘An Evening with…’ events in the UK this year, and is now starring in comedy drama ‘Danny Collins’ written and directed by Dan Fogelman. The film is loosely based on the true story of British folk singer Steve Tilston. Pacino takes the eponymous role as you might expect, playing a fed up has-been rocker who dines out on his past successes – mainly his hit record ‘Hey Baby Doll’ which is surprisingly catchy! When his manager Frank discovers an old handwritten letter addressed to Danny from none other than John Lennon, he is forced to reflect on his life decisions. Turning his back on the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, he chooses to track down his long-lost son and looks for love and redemption along the way.
With a writing background that includes crafting the screenplays for films such as Crazy Stupid Love and Last Vegas, first time director Fogelman has had experience in combining sentimentality with playful, and at times corny, humour. He gets the balance just about right with ‘Danny Collins’. The romantic side of the plot leaves a little to be desired with the chemistry with Mary (Annette Bening), or ‘patter’ as Danny would put it, mainly covering old ground but the family story has a lot of heart. Bobby Cannavale and Jennifer Garner are introduced around halfway through as Danny’s son Tom and his wife Samantha, and despite not getting the deserved screen time, their emotional scenes bring out the best moments of the film, and it is when Danny’s character path turns from sleazeball to loveable rogue, and more importantly a doting dad. Pacing issues present themselves as a conclusion is dragged out to a degree, but all round solid acting prevails.
Beneath the schmaltzy surface is a genuine feel-good movie that effectively does the job it sets out to do. Like the nostalgia-filled concerts that he himself puts on night after night to his adoring fan base, ‘Danny Collins’ won’t blow you away with its originality, but it’s warm familiarity and uplifting overtones will leave you with a satisfied grin across your face. It is a admirable debut feature from Dan Fogelman and pleasing to watch Al Pacino in a part he obviously enjoyed and that does him the justice he deserves as a veteran performer, even though it is lightweight material compared to his heyday. De Niro, take note.
Read about my evening with Al Pacino by clicking here!