It was only four years ago Al Pacino was to be found rapping a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial in an Adam Sandler movie (Jack and Jill — you’ve forgotten it, so has he, probably).
So it’s tempting to read an element of autobiography into this story of a sell-out rock star trying to retrieve his lost mojo. But no rapping this time. Danny Collins is more of a Neil Diamond or James Taylor vintage, though in appearance he’s somewhere between Rod Stewart and a California raisin. And his retirement-age fanbase still thinks he’s sexy, even if fame, wealth and trophy wives no longer fulfil him. A letter from John Lennon urging Collins to keep it real arrives 40 years too late, and triggers a late-life crisis that sees him fleeing to an anonymous New Jersey hotel. The obstacles are lined up like skittles: an estranged son to reconnect with (Bobby Cannavale); an age-appropriate love interest (Annette Bening’s unimpressed hotel manager); new, honest songs to write.
But none of them is satisfyingly resolved (money can buy you love, it turns out). Nor do they prompt much in the way of soul-searching, or even fish-out-of-water comedy. Pacino is good company, keeping his more mannered Pacinoisms in check, but none of it feels like a stretch for him. It’s up to the decent supporting cast and Lennon’s back catalogue to do the emotional heavy-lifting. Maybe that’s just as well: Pacino’s singing is almost as bad as his rapping.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010