Al Pacino rocks in charming 'Danny Collins'
'Danny Collins' is a shambling, loveable lark of a film built around a full-on assault of Al Pacino charm.
Pacino plays the title character, an aging rock star and beloved legend who has squandered his talent over the years on booze, drugs and women. Audiences crave his old hits, so he hasn't written a new song in years. He's definitely a character on the Rod Stewart-Keith Richards continuum.
But then his longtime manager (Christopher Plummer) gives him a surprise birthday gift: A letter John Lennon wrote to the young Danny in 1971 that was never passed on.
Danny immediately recognizes what a waste he's made of his life. So he hires a private jet, flies to New Jersey, rents a red Mercedes sports car and checks into a suburban Hilton hotel way beneath his pay grade.
Why? Because it turns out he has a full-grown son (Bobby Cannavale) he's never met, as well as a daughter-in-law (Jennifer Garner) and hyper-adorable granddaughter (Giselle Eisenberg).
These folks are somewhat hesitant, initially, in embracing famous Grandpa, but Danny makes new friends at the hotel to keep his spirits up, most notably with the prim hotel manager (Annette Bening).
He also starts writing songs again.
The story takes a turn toward melodrama as Danny tries to win over his resentful son, but writer-director Dan Fogelman ("Crazy Stupid Love") keeps that Pacino charm up front, even when things go dark. Really, some of the film's best moments are just Danny exchanging patter with the hotel's employees.
Of course, patter only takes you so far. "Danny Collins" is the cinematic equivalent of a well-sung easy rock tune, enjoyably light and bouncy, with some darker notes hidden within the chords.
Nice stuff, Al.
Rated R for language, drug use and some nudity
Running time: 106 minutes