Film Review: Danny Collins

“He’s got a big heart, he just keeps it up his ass half the time…”

That’s Danny Collins…and… that’s Danny Collins, a film with a reassuringly big heart, too.

I suppose if you break it all down, it’s fairly standard stock.

All the ingredients are there, an unfulfilling life, the want for change, the need for redemption with those most important to you and ultimately, lessons learned and making things right; to a point.

But such a blasé summary does ‘Danny Collins’ a disservice, because regardless of the film’s complexities or lack, thereof, it works and works well.

Annette Benning plays hard-nosed, savvy-yet-sweet to perfection. Both Bobby Cannavale and Jennifer Garner turn in tender, yet weighty performances considering their relatively limited screen time. Christopher Plummer plays a wise voice of sense and reason as Danny’s long time manager and best friend and then of course, there’s Al Pacino…

I struggle to think of a single Pacino performance that hasn’t at least held it’s own over the years, no matter the script, no matter the style.

Never less than engaging, here, he near smothers us with warmth and charm, in a good way, playing Danny Collins, a ‘career successful,’ yet personally unfulfilled rock star.

On receiving an unexpected and overwhelming life changing gift from his manager, Danny Collins reassesses his drug-addled, superficial existence and decides to make some important changes; most important of all, connecting with his son and family ( Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner and their precocious, yet admittedly amusing daughter).

Danny’s approach and charm offensive is predictably bold and over the top, in keeping with his superstar status, but respect and lost time cannot be bought or made up over night.

Whilst he may woo effortlessly when he has an ‘on-side’ audience, creating bonds and regaining the trust of those who would rather he didn’t exist, is quite another matter altogether.

Yes, it’s a bit clumsy at times, yes it can be a little contrived and predictable in places, but at the risk of repeating myself: Danny Collins is a film with a big heart, an excellent cast and of course, Al Pacino.

When you watch a film with no expectations and come out feeling good about pretty much everything, you know that something’s been done right. Danny Collins gets it right.

A genuinely likeable cast, laugh-out-loud moments, ‘that’ feel good factor and all carried along by the timeless music and message of John Lennon. This is great escapism and Alfredo Pacino is on top form.

Danny Collins: What’s not to like?

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