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I love being surprised by a movie and “Danny Collins” does just that and more. I had expected Al Pacino, as a 75 year old rock star and song writer still doing sold out concerts, to do what has become his ‘hammy’ star turns since “Scent of a Woman” and , admittedly, I enjoy watching him at full wattage. The film starts with that sort of act but takes a turn when he meets the manager of a Hilton Hotel in New Jersey, Annette Bening, and their exchanges of quick flirting, followed by meeting his daughter-in-law, Jennifer Garner, his hyper active granddaughter Giselle Eisenberg and his estranged son Bobby Cannavale.

There is a scene between Cannavale and Pacino in the latter’s tour bus that is pure gold, watching actors who don’t have to say a word and yet can show the audience exactly what is going on in their minds.

Christopher Plummer shows why he has been a movie star since he made his debut in “Stage Struck” (one of my guilty pleasures) in 1958. Playing Pacino’s friend and manager his timing is impeccable whether making cracks about New Jersey or telling Cannavale about what, and who, his father is or setting up the motivation of the movie.

The film opens with the credit “…kind of based on a true story a little bit,” which at the end explains that Steve Tilston, a British folk singer, received a letter written to him in 1971 by John Lennon in 2005. In “Danny Collins” it is Pacino who receives the letter 43 years later as a birthday present from Plummer.

Directed and written by Dan Fogelman there are a couple of missteps and one plot point that you will either buy or won’t but all the actors deliver for him including Eisenberg who may really be a child with ADHD or a good child actress.

“Danny Collins” will probably be forgotten by the time award season rolls around but this is a must see for Pacino, Plummer and Cannavale fans not to forget people who love movies without special effects.


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