MOVIE REVIEW: Danny Collins

I’m always happy to see Bobby Cannavale NOT playing a mobster or thug.

Danny_Collins_Official_PosterI pretty much HAD to see the movie Danny Collins, which is based, sort of, on a message John Lennon sent to a budding musician named Steve Tilston, interviewed in a magazine back in 1971. Lennon saw the piece and sent a letter to the Tilston, care of the magazine, inviting Steve to call John, complete with his phone number. But the young musician never saw the letter until years later.

That actually happened, and it is the jumping-off point of this fictional piece of an aging musician (Al Pacino), who stays on the road, performing the same songs he wrote three decades ago, essentially selling out, and he needs to “self-medicate” to get through it all. His friend/manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) gives him the present of the aforementioned letter, and suddenly his too-young girlfriend, and excesses in his lifestyle, seem lacking.

He essentially moves into a New Jersey hotel room, tries to woo the hotel manager (Annette Bening, who reminded me of an older version of Annie Hall), and fix up a pair of hotel employees (Melissa Benoist, Josh Peck). Mostly, he tries to make things right by Tom (Bobby Cannavale) and his family (Jennifer Garner, young Giselle Eisenberg), though Tom, for good reason, wants nothing to do with Danny.

The Wife and I saw this at the Spectrum Theatre on our anniversary, and we liked it quite a lot. I think nearly ALL the reviews, positive (78%) and negative, are largely true. The cast makes the mushy journey about self-discovery palatable. The narrative isn’t particularly surprising, though it has a few twists, yet the story by writer/director Dan Fogelman was charming, engaging, and probably a bit schmaltzy. The John Lennon songs that made up most of the soundtrack, were overly familiar to me, but might be revelatory for someone not so seeped into his music.

I’m always happy to see Bobby Cannavale NOT playing a mobster or thug, but just a guy trying to get by.

As usual, I must complain about people leaving the moment the credits start, as they miss the REAL guy (Tilston) talking about, belatedly, getting the Lennon letter.

Oh, two last things: apparently, Michael Caine was originally cast as Danny’s manager, before being replaced by Plummer; Caine’s name still shows up in some cast listings. The original name of the film was to be Imagine, based on the Lennon song; I’m glad it was changed.

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