Thursday, April 23, 2015

Danny Collins (2015)

I almost didn't see this because there just wasn't a lot of interest on my part. Then I saw a lot of good reviews and was like, all right, like I have anything better to do on a Sunday.

This is a good example of why I still try to see most everything. You never know when a movie is going to catch you by surprise, and Danny Collins was a pleasant one. First, it winks at the whole 'based on a true story' thing by adding 'sort of' to it, which I thought was a nice touch. Everyone knows these 'based on a true story' movies are heavily embellished. At least they're being honest about it this time.

Al Pacino plays a washed up, Neil Diamond-type singer. He's a coked-up boozer, which I can understand when you hear his first song, a 'Sweet Caroline' soundalike that I would never be able to play or listen to night after night. He's got a girlfriend half his age and extravagant lifestyle that he can't maintain.

The 'true' part of the story is that the folk singer this was based on (someone I've never heard of, or his music) was sent a letter from John Lennon nearly 40 years prior and he never got it. When 'Danny' gets the letter, he laments that his career would have likely gone on a different path had he gotten it when it was originally sent. He tries to clean up, reclaim his art, all while trying to reconnect with his son and family.

It sounds schmaltzy as hell, and it is, but what makes it work is that the dialog is pretty sharp, and the supporting cast is fantastic. It was written and directed by Dan Fogelman, who you'd probably know best for writing Crazy. Stupid. Love. You can really see his influence on the pacing, tone, and overall humor. When Pacino isn't trying to catch up with his family, he's aggressively hitting on Annette Bening at every opportunity. It's the most charming I've seen Pacino be in a long time. He tries his hardest to not play a variation of that over-the-top version of himself we've gotten in his more recent films.

The story wraps up a little too cleanly (much like Crazy. Stupid. Love), but overall I thought it was a fun and entertaining film. A pretty good date movie, in fact. I recommend checking it out.

3.5 (out of 5) Death Stars

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