Film review: Danny Collins - mawkish humour, but oozing goodwill

Al Pacino plays a jaded music icon who's re-energised by a decades-old undelivered letter from John Lennon. Christopher Plummer, Annette Bening and Jennifer Garner co-star

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 June, 2015, 11:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 July, 2015, 8:18pm

There is so much goodwill in Danny Collins that even its characters' struggles are made to feel frothy. Inspired by an actual letter John Lennon wrote a young musician in 1971 to dispel the myth of fame, this otherwise fictionalised drama milks the titular pop crooner's later-life crisis for all its redemptive potential.

Played by a relaxed Al Pacino, Danny Collins is an ageing music icon who has grown tired of playing tacky oldies concerts for the money. Married and divorced thrice before his engagement to a girlfriend half his age, the jaded man largely relies on alcohol and drugs to feel alive.

All that changes when his manager (Christopher Plummer) brings him an undelivered letter Lennon wrote him decades earlier. Re-energised, Danny heads for New Jersey, holing up in a hotel to write songs when he isn't looking for Tom Donnelly (Bobby Cannavale), the son he has never known.

Despite Tom's initial resistance, Danny buys his way into the lives of his working-class son and daughter-in-law (Jennifer Garner) as he uses his rock-star status to secure his ADHD-afflicted granddaughter a place in a top special-needs school.

With the welcome distraction of a hotel manager (Annette Bening), with whom Danny flirts comically and recurrently, the movie plays like a reconciliation tour where artistic integrity is revived and family ties are rebuilt. Aside from Pacino, the veteran actors also give their mawkish scenarios warmth and humour.

Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale Director: Dan Fogelman Category: IIB

Danny Collins opens on June 4