Oct 032015
 
Title: Danny Collins
Genre: Drama
Starring: Al Pacino,
Annette Benning,
Bobby Cannavale,
Jennifer Garner,
Christopher Plummer,
Certificate: US: R
UK: 15
Picture: 2.40:1
Audio Format: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English.
Runtime: 1 Hour 46 mins
Extras: Behind The Scenes
Studio: Entertainment One
Release Date: USA: Jun 30 2015
UK: Oct 05 2015
See If You Like: Being Flynn,
Philomena,

In a drastic departure from the expected norm, Al Pacino headlines Danny Collins not as a mafia boss, a headstrong policeman, or any kind of shouty authority figure; instead Al (former Godfather star) stars in this indie drama as an ageing rockstar; giving an engaging, believable, and energetic performance as Danny Collins.

Based on a small piece of a true life tale, Pacino’s Collins finds himself performing the same 30-year-old hits night in and night out, for a decrepit female fan base, but when he suddenly finds out John Lennon sent him a letter 40 years ago (which he never received until now), he decides to make some changes to his life.

What follows is a late-life crisis, where Danny leaves his cheating fiancée, rents a room at The Hilton indefinitely, and not only tries to work on his first new material in 30 years, but connect with the grown son he’s never met before (Bobby Cannavale, Ant-Man).

it’s a touching, heartfelt tale about one man attempting to change his life for the better; lifting himself out of his misery by getting back to what he loves (writing music), really trying to fix his past wrongs (meeting his son, and his son’s family for the first time and trying to become a positive influence in their lives), and enjoy himself at the same time (flirting with the idea of starting a budding romance with Hilton Hotel manager Mary Sinclair – played by American Beauty‘s Annette Benning); and while there’s pleasures and pitfalls along the way, Danny remains a hugely positive, feel-good, film throughout.

Pacino is great as the Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, ageing heartthrob type; clearly having the stage appeal, charisma, and rockstar persona down to a T (a lifetime of being Al Pacino has probably prepared him pretty well for that role), though it has to be said he never looks at home on stage, doesn’t really deliver in the singing department, and fails to become a believable performer in that regard.


 

Where Al does succeed however, is both in the portraying the more emotional aspects of his character (seeming miserable/disenchanted, or lashing out at his lowest moments), and in establishing clear chemistry with just about everyone he comes in contact with; from characters as inane as a valet driver (Ice Age: The Meltdown) or hotel receptionist (Melissa Benoist, Whiplash), to love-interest Annette Benning (the chemistry between the two is simply fantastic, and involves some great back-and-forth), his son, and even daughter-in-law (Jennifer Garner, Juno), granddaughter (Giselle Eisenberg, The Wolf Of Wall Street), and his manager/best friend (Christopher Plummer, A Beautiful Mind).

Supporting stars also fare well; Annette Benning, as mentioned, has great chemistry with Pacino, and is consistently likeable and believable throughout; Bobby Cannavale is well placed as Pacino’s son, clearly exhibiting all the fire and pent up anger one would expect, as well as excelling in the more emotional scenes (as his character struggles with some personal issues). Jennifer Garner is typical Garner (strong enough, and impossible to fault, though far from outstanding), Christopher Plummer is a great fit for Danny’s ageing best friend, and even smaller roles are filled out well; as while Melissa Benoist doesn’t have much to do other than constantly smile, her likability and energy also make her a nice addition to the cast.

Danny’s journey is one which many viewers will be able to relate to (obviously not the rockstar status, but hoping to go back and change things from the past in order to make yourself happier), and it’s good to watch the ups and downs of how he attempts to fix his life. The only problem is, there aren’t quite enough pitfalls, and even when Danny hits his lowest point in the film it seems to be glossed over and forgotten fairly quickly; painting an unrealistic picture seemingly in order to maintain the feel good factor, and ensure people continue to like Danny.

It also doesn’t have the ending you would expect regarding both Danny’s new material and efforts with his family, not to mention the prospective love interest with the hotel manager, but when all’s said and done you’ll have been glad you pressed played with Danny Collins; a well written, well acted, enjoyable feel good film with a fantastic [Lennon-infused] soundtrack which proves it’s worth trying again. A feel-good hit, and fantastic showing from Pacino.

Danny Collins, Al Pacino, 01

Picture:

Whilst not astounding, the video quality of the Danny Collins DVD is more than acceptable. A solid release which sports strong definition throughout, well balanced (though often somewhat muted) colours, and naturalistic fleshtones, and decent blacks with only occasional (and always negligible) compression issues and banding visible. A strong presentation, and one which suggests the film would look superb on Blu-ray.

Audio:

Without any action sequences, big set pieces, or even much in the way of concert work Danny Collins was never really going to bring the wow-factor in terms of sound quality, but surprisingly the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix awarded to the Danny Collins DVD delivers all round; dialogue is flawless throughout, well anchored in the centre, and always intelligible (a good thing considering Danny Collins is almost entirely dialogue driven). There’s a smattering of ambient effects, and some decent surround usage during the musical performances, and the soundtrack itself sounds great. So while it’s not a mix which’ll blow your socks off, there’s still little to grumble about regarding Danny Collins‘ sound.

Extras:

There’s very little to dance to in terms of Danny Collins’ special features; all we’re given in a selection of fake album covers to flick through (a rather pointless inclusion, even if they do seem to fit the age and genre they’re supposed to be from), and a Behind The Scenes feature which is completely promotional and, while it does contain the odd interview with the stars (with not a single probing question), is nothing but an extended trailer for the film you’ve probably already watched. A poor showing overall.

The Bottom Line:

Ignoring the rather woeful selection of bonus materials available here, Danny Collins has been given a solid DVD release. It’s also a lovely feel-good film about a man trying to right some of the wrongs in his life, make up for lost time, and recapture the spirit of his youth. Led by a wonderfully charismatic actor in Al Pacino (proving he’s still relevant, and making far better career choices than some of his contemporaries), and aided by a great supporting cast, as well as a fantastic soundtrack, it’ll not only prove to be a fantastic gift for your mum, or your gran, this Christmas, but a film you’ll enjoy watching yourself. So if you see it in a multi-buy, a bargain bin, or even popping up on Netflix in a couple of months, give the well written, well-acted, Danny Collins a watch. You’ll be glad you did.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

Film:
Ratings 07 Buy from Amazon.co.uk Buy from Amazon.com
Video:
Ratings 06
Audio:
Ratings 07
Extras:
Ratings 02
Overall:
Ratings 07