Aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins, can't give up his hard-living ways. But when his manager uncovers a 40 year-old undelivered letter written to him by John Lennon, he decides to change course and embarks on a heartfelt journey to rediscover his family, find true love and begin a second act.
We’ve seen the same story before, where an aging rock star who has led a life of drugs, booze, and women, has an epiphany and wants to turn the page in their lives and be a better person. This version of that familiar story is somewhat based on a true one, or rather several true stories over the years where Al Pacino gives one of his better performances in recent memory and has a lot of fun doing so.
Pacino plays an aging rock star named Danny Collins who is a mix of Neil Diamond and Rod Stewart. This Collins character has had a bunch of number 1 hits over the years. In fact, he’s on his third Greatest Hits album, but has failed to produce any new music in three decades. He spends his evenings playing gigs to sold out arenas, playing the same old schlock to the young and old, and spends his overnights snorting cocaine, drinking anything with alcohol in it, and having sex with his live-in girlfriend, who is several decades his junior.
Collins’s manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) gives him a birthday gift, which was a long lost letter to Collins from John Lennon, which was never delivered to Collins decades earlier. The letter tells Collins that his first album is amazing and that fame and fortune shouldn’t go to his head, and that he shouldn’t be afraid to be himself in life and his music. If Danny were to get scared or nervous about anything, he should give Lennon a call so he could help him out. Needless to say, that’s a pretty amazing letter, which causes Collins start to re-examine his sad and pathetic life.
He often wonders how different his life and career would have been if he had received the letter fifty years ago, which has him leave his luxurious mansion, young girlfriend, and drugs, and head to New Jersey to a local Hilton, so he can write a new album. He has another motive though, which is to finally meet and re-connect with his son Tom (Tom Collins, lol), who is played by Bobby Canavale, who he has never met or made contact with. Come to find out, his son Tom has a wife (Jennifer Garner) and a granddaughter.
Meanwhile, Danny takes a liking to the hotel manager named Mary (Annette Bening), who doesn’t fall for his charm as easily as everyone else. This very endearing film has a good mix of some emotional drama and some genuine funny moments that have you rooting for Danny, even though he sometimes doesn’t deserve it. Seeing Pacino dancing and singing on stage in a Neil Diamond fashion was quite fun, and it looked like he had a great time doing so as well, but it’s the melodramatic moments where he shines, whether it trying to re-connect with and forge a bond with his adult son who has a secret of his own, or struggling to produce a new song. Pacino still proves he has what it takes to be one of the best.
Both Canavale and Garner turn in excellent performances, which are very realistic and charming. ‘Danny Collins‘ is built and succeeds on its simple nature and story. It never hits us over the head with emotions we are supposed to feel, which is always welcome. Instead, it gives us just enough and leaves us wanting to spend more time with these characters. First time director Dan Fogelman does an impressive job with this A-list veteran cast, pulling some of the better performances of their later careers. If you give ‘Danny Collins‘ a chance, I think you’ll be glad you did.
'Danny Collins' comes with a fantastic 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This image looks just great on almost every level, even though the film itself and image is very simple. Although this is an uncomplicated image, the excellent detail and color really make this picture pop. The detail is vivid and sharp throughout, which reveals every wrinkle, age spot, and harsh makeup blemish on Al Pacino's face. His character's rock-star clothes show the fine and minute stitching that were involved in his wardrobe as well.
The props and and background items looks equally good here and never look flat for even a second. The wider shots are crystal clear and striking as well. Colors are bright, bold, and simply pop off screen. They are all well-balanced and realistic without any muted or vague color grading. Black levels are deep and inky throughout and the skin tones are always natural. There was just a small amount of video noise, but other than that, there were zero problems or issues with this video presentation, leaving this one with high marks.
This release comes with a very good lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix. Considering that this film follows a Neil Diamond type of rock singer around, the film is more dialogue than a rock n roll movie with tons of musical performances. That being said, this audio mix is very layered and robust. When Danny Collins is on stage, whole concert acoustics kicks into gear with plenty of bass and surround instruments to give the full live performance feel. It's quite good and makes you feel like you're in a big arena audience.
The bulk of the film though is spoken dialogue, which is always crystal clear and easy to understand throughout. There were no instances of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills to speak of. The score and song selection is fantastic as well, and always adds to the tone of the film in each scene, without drowning out any sound effect or piece of dialogue. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide, leaving this audio presentation with great marks.
Behind the Scenes of 'Danny Collins' (HD, 4 Mins.) - Here is a standard promo reel for the film that features more clips from the film than actual interviews with the cast and crew.
Danny Collins: Album Covers Through the Years - A slideshow of the fictional album covers of Danny Collins's career, which may show what happened after the credits rolled.
'Danny Collins' is a sweet, fun, and endearing film with great performances from everyone involved. It's got one hell of a story line that has a very entertaining start and ends on a very emotional moment. Pacino is solid gold here and it looked like he had a ton of fun playing this aging rock-star. The video and audio presentations are both excellent, but the lack of extras was very disappointing. Where were the big interviews and commentary tracks with everyone involved? Still, this gem of a movie is worth the purchase and comes RECOMMENDED!