Danny Collins is a worthy redemption tale
Life is often viewed as a series of regrets and filled with thoughts of, "What if I did this instead?" Even those with a privileged life and status as an icon, those fortunate to be branded to be a "star," whether it's in movies or music, probably ponder that thought of "what if" more often than those who aspire to achieve their status. Instead of simply thinking what could be done, it's best to enact those thoughts in hopes of creating a better life than what was previously done. This notion serves as the basis for the dramedy, "Danny Collins," starring Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale and Christopher Plummer.
As we first meet our title character (Pacino) as his career starts in the 1970s, he appears very wary about the prospects of what fame and fortune will give him. As we jump four decades forward, Collins plays to sellout crowds and the third volume of his greatest hits albums is featured on a billboard. His young wife and constant use of drugs aren't helping him achieve any salvation, until his manager (Plummer) gives him a gift of an inviting letter from John Lennon that was addressed to him years ago. Seizing the opportunity of this discovery, he relocated himself to a Hilton hotel room in New Jersey, not just write a new piece of music and find romance in the form of the hotel's manager (Bening), but an attempt to make amends with his estranged son (Cannavale), using his fame and fortune to provide a better life for him, his wife (Garner) and their daughter who has ADHD.
Obviously, this story of redemption has been heard before, but the performances from all of the actors help to drive this familiar story along. Pacino is a covered method actor, both on the screen and stage, but he's not really the ideal choice to be a singer in the mold of Neil Diamond, whose signature song in the film, "Baby Doll," sounds a lot like "Sweet Caroline." Seeing Michael Corleone on an album cover is a bit wary. However, the film acknowledges that he doesn't fancy himself as much as a singer and he's really an ace at being a charmer, which is sadly a quality that's largely loss on today's performers. Plummer is a delight as the classic example of the mentor manager, who always has a snarky comment, reminisce of John Gielgud in "Arthur."
Danny Collins turns away some with its apparent "money solves everything" mentality to solve crisis in our lives and our attempts to mend the past. Although, as Lennon once said, "All you need is love," and that's what's essential in bringing a story like this one into positive light.