Richard Roeper Blog

‘Danny Collins:’ Al Pacino sells the heck out of his performance “B”

“Danny Collins”

I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, Academy Award winner Al Pacino and Academy Award nominee Annette Bening star in “Danny Collins.” My review…right now!

The great Al Pacino isn’t the first actor I’d think of to play an aging pop star who still fills mid-sized arenas some 40 years after he last charted a hit single. Yet Al Pacino sells the heck out of his performance as Danny Collins. He’s a Neil Diamond-esque icon with a signature hit called “Hey Baby Doll.”

Once upon a time, Danny was a singer-songwriter with great promise. But he sold out, stopped writing his own music and churned out dozens of sugary pop hits. Now he’s filthy rich, globally famous, adored by one and all—and miserable.

Christopher Plummer is Danny’s manager and best friend, who finds a letter John Lennon wrote to Danny some 40 years ago—a letter Danny never knew about it until now.

It’s a game-changer. Danny cuts short his tour, leaves his cheating girlfriend and bids Los Angeles goodbye for the Woodcliff Lake Hilton in New Jersey.

Pacino, who has been famous for about as long as the character he’s been playing has been famous, is perfect in the many scenes in which valets and hotel clerks and customers in the bar realize he’s Danny Collins. He delights in delighting them, turning on the charm in the blink of an eye.

Annette Bening provides screwball romantic comedy relief as Mary Sinclair, the manager of the hotel.

Bobby Canavale is excellent as Danny’s 40-year-old son Tom, the product of a one-night stand in the 1970s. They’ve never met until now. Jennifer Garner sparkles as Tom’s pregnant wife, who nudges the bitter Tom into at least talking with Danny.

Danny stumbles and screws up along the way, but even the darkest moments in “Danny Collins” are predictable speed bumps. Just like “Sweet Baby Doll,” this is supposed to be a feel-good number, and as such it works just fine. I give it a B.

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