Danny Collins Movie Review
Al Pacino stopped being relevant years ago, so it’s only fitting that he plays an over-the-hill rock star known for being a caricature of himself in Danny Collins. The movie delivers exactly what you’d expect from an aging rock star: it’s entertaining to watch, but far from a blow-the-roof-off experience.
Pacino plays the title character, who suddenly realizes that he is sick of performing the same old songs. So, naturally, he cancels his current tour, checks into a neighborhood Hilton, attempts to woo the hotel manager (Annette Bening) and reconciles with his bastard son (Bobby Cannavale), who hates him.
The entire affair, written and directed by Dan Fogelman (Last Vegas, Crazy, Stupid Love.), is pretty routine stuff, with some fairly predictable conflict and a story we’ve seen before. But despite the generic plotting, Danny Collins is well written and well-acted.
The movie boasts one of Pacino’s better performances in recent years, if only for the fact that the Oscar-winning actor isn’t trying to upstage himself in every scene. Danny Collins plays to his strengths, but most importantly it also plays to his weaknesses—most notably, that the actor’s performances have tended to veer into loud, larger-than-life portrayals that are a far cry from his better work. Here, playing a loud, larger-than-life personality who is looking for a change, Pacino seems to be acting out against what his career has become—a caricature of the Al Pacino who was known as one of the best actors in the world.
The film focuses on two core storylines, one that works better than the other. The arc involving Danny and his estranged family (also featuring Jennifer Garner) is pretty good and emotionally fulfilling. The other, about the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Danny and Mary (Bening), simply suffers from a lack of dedicated screen time. The two actors have solid chemistry, but despite Bening’s best attempts, her character just isn’t given the chance to be thoroughly explored.
In the end, Danny Collins is an easy watch and consistently entertaining. It doesn’t offer the dramatic beats to make it truly memorable, but as is, it’s a worthwhile venture and proof that Al Pacino still has something left in the tank.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.