In his latest bid to out-irrelevant De Niro, Al Pacino stars as an aging rock star, though calling Danny Collins’ music “rock” is a bit of a stretch. His big hit, “Hey Baby Doll,” is about as hard as Neil Diamond and sounds awfully like “Sweet Caroline.”
His manager/best friend (Christopher Plummer, who is as charismatic as ever) gives him a 40-year-old letter from John Lennon, and Danny has a change of heart and decides the time has come to meet his grown son, Tom (Bobby Cannavale). Naturally, Tom has a charming wife, Samantha (Jennifer Garner) and a hyperactive little girl, Hope (Giselle Eisenberg).
Danny also woos Mary (Annette Bening in the romantic role typically reserved for Diane Keaton), the lovely manager at the suburban New Jersey hotel he chooses as his hideout, before essentially proving old dogs do not take to those new tricks.
In his directorial debut, Crazy, Stupid, Love writer Dan Fogelberg attempts to horn in on Nancy Meyers/James L. Brooks/Rob Reiner territory. He did not need to toss in a cheap health crisis to jerk the tears, when he could simply have relied on Pacino and the still-surprising Cannavale to do the job they do so well.
Pacino has the swagger of an aging rocker, but the movie fails to sell his music. Judging by the number of his songs we hear, Collins seems more like a one-hit wonder than a superstar on his third collection of greatest hits. Blandly inoffensive, Danny Collins will soon be nothing more than a trivial footnote in Pacino’s long career.
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