This likable movie rises or falls on Al Pacino’s ability to convince us that he’s an aging pop star…and he does. Danny Collins follows a familiar story path, but it’s such a pleasure to watch Pacino (and fellow cast members Christopher Plummer, Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale, and Jennifer Garner) that it barely matters. I’ve made this comparison before, but this kind of movie is the cinematic equivalent of
Dan Fogelman (The Guilt Trip, Last Vegas) makes his directorial debut with a screenplay he wrote about a Billy Joel-like singer who’s coasting on decades of fame, giving his aging audiences exactly what they want to hear—especially his signature song, “Baby Doll.” But when he discovers that his sexy young wife has been cheating on him, he pauses to consider his life. On impulse, he travels to New Jersey to look up the son he’s never known (a subdued but effective Cannavale) and the grandson he’s never seen. He checks into a local hotel (managed by Bening), rents a piano, and tries to recharge his musical batteries by composing something new for the first time in years.
As each story thread is introduced you can pretty well foresee its outcome, but Fogelman’s screenplay is straightforward, sincere, and happily devoid of irony. If you have no moviegoing history with Al Pacino you might not derive the same enjoyment that I did from Danny Collins…and if you crave edgy drama you’ll have to look elsewhere, but if you’re in the mood for lightweight entertainment with an
appealing cast, this should fill the bill.