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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, January 01, 2016

Movie Review - Danny Collins

Danny Collins (2015)
Starring Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale, and Christopher Plummer
Directed by Dan Fogelman
***This movie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime***

I hold absolutely no affinity towards Al Pacino, so I wasn't exactly jumping to see Danny Collins when it was released last spring.  Much to my surprise, this is one of those hidden gems that I love to uncover while making my way through a year's films.  Pacino is the title character, an aging rock star who still is living the wild lifestyle well into his golden years.  When his manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) surprises Danny with a personal letter from John Lennon that had been missing for decades, Danny suddenly has a change of heart thanks to Lennon's words.  He decides to clean himself up, stop his lucrative touring, and head to New Jersey to meet his estranged adult son Tom (Bobby Cannavale) for the first time.  Tom isn't exactly jumping at the chance to help Danny find peace with himself seeing as how he'd never met the man, but with the urging of his wife (Jennifer Garner) Tom begins to see that Danny may be a changed man.

Cliché?  You bet.  But writer-director Dan Fogelman (who also wrote the stellar Crazy Stupid Love and Tangled) has crafted such witty wordplay spouted by surprisingly well-rounded and gosh-darn likable characters that you can't help but have a smile on your face as you watch this.  Pacino is hugely entertaining bringing a cocky suaveness to Danny, but never taking him over the edge into prickishness.  Bobby Cannavale brings a surprising amount of heart to the film as his story gradually is revealed to be a bit more layered than initially believed.  Pacino and Cannavale share the film's final scene and it's so brilliantly and simplistically written by Fogelman that it will surely end up on my Top Scenes of the Year list.

Perhaps the best part of Danny Collins, though, is the witty repartee that occurs between Danny and the manager of the Hilton Hotel he's staying in while in New Jersey.  As Mary Sinclair, Annette Bening is irresistibly charming, yet resolute when standing her ground against Danny who has a slightly egotistical attitude in his air when he initially arrives.  As Mary and Danny banter back and forth, the chemistry between Pacino and Bening is palpable and extremely entertaining to watch.  While we viewers certainly have an idea of where this character duo may be heading, Fogelman doesn't necessarily take us down the expected path which was a pleasure to discover.  The cast is a huge key to the success of Danny Collins who take what may be a typical dramedy (with some admittedly clever dialog) and transform it into something more magical than could be expected.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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