Danny Collins movie review: the tragedy of the filthy rich rock star

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Danny Collins red light

Listen as the world’s tiniest violin plays on the soundtrack of this utterly obvious and clichéd three-quarter-life crisis dramedy.
I’m “biast” (pro): like the cast

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Aging rock star (Al Pacino: Manglehorn) has a sad because he only just now learned that John Lennon had written him a letter in 1971 — it never got to him — and warned him about how it’s not fame and fortune but “only you” that can corrupt a musician’s art. And because Danny Collins never received this sage advice, he corrupted his art, and now is forced to spend his incredibly lavish and luxurious old age singing the same damn hit song over and over again to aging fans he disdains. (That song is “Hey Baby Doll,” which sounds so much almost exactly like “Sweet Caroline” that it could be part of a case study in the law books about copyright infringement.) But now the letter, finally in his possession, prompts a three-quarter-life crisis. “If I’m gonna find any kind of redemption,” Danny tells his manager (Christopher Plummer: Hector and the Search for Happiness), “I can’t waste any more time.” And so writer-director Dan Fogelman’s (Cars 2) utterly obvious and clichéd dramedy sets Danny on the road to superconvenient redemption. Fogelman mines “charm” from the celebrity fairy dust Danny’s leaves in his wake — look how he sets up those two cute young people working in the hotel! — and from the ministrations of a hotel manager (Annette Bening: Girl Most Likely) who takes no shit and gives no fucks, offering just the sort of tough love that a man of Danny’s age really shouldn’t need to get his act together. And when Danny connects with the grown son (Bobby Cannavale: Ant-Man) he’d never before met and his wife (Jennifer Garner: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) and little daughter (Giselle Eisenberg: Sex Tape), Fogelman feels the need to invent not one but two family crises for Danny to graciously step in and resolve. The very talented cast is very game, but there’s nary a word or an act here that is very convincing. Is that the world’s tiniest violin I can hear on playing on “Hey Baby Doll”?


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Danny Collins for its representation of girls and women.

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RogerBW
RogerBW
Mon, Aug 03, 2015 10:28pm

If you used tags, this sort of film could be “oh poor baby”.

An awful lot of family problems are more readily resolved when you have rock-star levels of money to throw around.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  RogerBW
Mon, Aug 03, 2015 11:16pm

You’ve seen the movie, haven’t you? :-)

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  RogerBW
Mon, Aug 03, 2015 11:31pm

“I got 99 problems, and about 70 of them would be solved if I had more money.”

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 2:22am

Thanks, pal. Now I’ve got that running through my head.

>±<

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 5:00am

I live to serve

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 12:58pm

I’ll remember that.

Tonio Kruger
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 7:47pm

Hey, it costs a lot of money to be poor. It’s far cheaper in the long run to be rich. :-)

Tonio Kruger
reply to  RogerBW
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 7:58pm

A fact that has been proved by the Jackson family and Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s next of kin…

Gregory Netterville
Gregory Netterville
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 6:03am

It’s like you always say: there is almost no male fantasy that cannot end up onscreen…

If you consider The Humbling (almost beat-for-beat the same story as Birdman), Manglehorn and Danny Collins, Pacino has made the same movie three times in a row. What an interesting stretch at this point in his career.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Gregory Netterville
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 1:12pm

I know. These last few years I’ve preferred to rewatch Cruising, Dog Day Afternoon, Frankie and Johnny, The Godfather, …pretty much anything from when he still had juicy roles.

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 1:16pm

Have you seen the trailers for The Intern? De Niro plays a smiling old codger. Gah.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  RogerBW
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 1:59pm

Somehow, Walter Matthau managed to continue having good roles in movies as he aged. Not every single one, but some. Pacino’s streak isn’t looking nearly as good. Nor DeNiro’s.

Mind you, he did do a great Shylock a few years ago; but, that’s theater, not the movies.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 3:26pm

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379889/

I’m trying to convince myself that The Intern is secretly a horror movie.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 3:28pm

I missed that. I was thinking of the 2010 (? 2011?) Shakespeare in the Park production.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 10:17pm

I suspect the problem isn’t so much Pacino but the stagnation of cinema. No one today is making the sorts of movies that Matthau was doing 30 years ago.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 10:38pm

Nor Pacino. I mean, Sea of Love was a pretty good thriller. Glengarry Glen Ross…Even Scent of a Woman, although I was pretty conflicted about the ‘don’t snitch’ message. Refusing to be forced to keep someone’s unsavory secret or ratting someone out (depending on your point of view) is not a cut-and-dry thing.

Anyhow, those are about 25 years old.

Yeah, cinema is stagnating.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Aug 04, 2015 11:46pm

There was a rumor going around last year that Pacino might appear in a Marvel super-hero movie. Whether that would be a good thing is for you to decide.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Danielm80
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 3:42am

Really? U think he’d listen to me?

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 3:52am

No. But you can decide whether or not it’s a good thing to spend your fourteen bucks at the box office.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Danielm80
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 1:57pm

That isn’t much of a ‘decision’. In the meanwhile, it would be using resources that could be put to better use.

Tonio Kruger
reply to  Danielm80
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 7:51pm

It worked for Robert Redford…

Tonio Kruger
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 7:55pm

Even back then, it seemed like Matthau was making more mediocrities like Little Miss Marker and Buddy, Buddy than decent films like First Monday in October.

Then again, it seems like the only actor over a certain age who has avoided appearing in outright garbage has been Robert Redford and he has accomplished that by either producing his own movies or appearing in a starring role about once in a blue moon.

Tonio Kruger
reply to  RogerBW
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 7:49pm

After Rocky & Bullwinkle and the Meet the Parents movies, nothing surprises me about Robert DeNiro’s film roles anymore.

bronxbee
bronxbee
Wed, Aug 05, 2015 6:33pm

when i first saw that picture, i thought it was sean penn.