Danny Collins Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale. Directed by Dan Fogelman. Rated R. Opens Friday.
In Danny Collins, Al Pacino plays a rock star—a legend, someone as important to the music world as Pacino is to the acting world. Like Pacino, however, whose last culturally significant role was nearly 20 years ago (in 1997’s Donnie Brasco), Danny Collins knows that his glory days are behind him. People still fawn over him, but only in a nostalgic way, and he’s accomplished little of note for a long, long time. So the discovery that John Lennon had been a fan, and had written him an encouraging letter—which Danny never received—inspires a sudden, gargantuan crisis of conscience.
Writer-director Dan Fogelman was inspired by a true story—the Lennon letter is real, though the actual musician who never saw it is British and obscure. Not much here feels genuine, however. Pacino mugs shamelessly, as usual, and it’s left to Bobby Cannavale, playing the son Danny fathered with a groupie and then forgot about, and Annette Bening, as a hotel manager Danny keeps hustling for a date, to give the film a touch of gravity and dignity.