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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Dan Fogelman

Danny Collins (2015)

John Lennon once tried to reach out to me, too. Then, I woke up.

Danny Collins (Al Pacino) feels as if he’s been on top of the music world for as long as he can remember. He’s still on-tour, making money, throwing parties, and set to be married to a much younger woman. Despite the fact that Danny hasn’t written any new music in nearly a decade, he’s happy enough with himself and his career that he doesn’t care too much about what the nay-sayers may be spouting about. That all begins to change one day, however, when his manager (Christopher Plummer) hands him a letter written in 1971 by John Lennon, asking that Danny come visit him and Yoko Ono to make music and see what sort of chemistry they’ve got between one another. Danny now feels like his career needs a reboot, with him dropping out of his latest tour, cancelling his engagement, and going back to visit the son (Bobby Cannavale), the daughter-in-law (Jennifer Garner), and granddaughter (Giselle Eisenberg) that he never got a chance to know. However, it’s not going to be so easy for Danny to come back into their lives, especially considering that he’s been out of them for quite some time, which was all his doing in the first place.

Definitely not a Motel 6.

Definitely not a Motel 6.

You can tell exactly where Danny Collins is going to go right from the start. It’s so obviously calculated and written in a way that, even if you haven’t seen a single movie ever made, you’d still know what’s going to happen, when, where, and why. There’s many movies I’ve seen where there’s been hardly any surprises to be found within the plot itself, yet, by the same token, there’s little pieces of honest insight to be found that the formula can get tooled around with enough to where it doesn’t matter; sometimes, you just need a little shake-up here and there.

And that’s exactly what Dan Fogelman does here.

While Fogelman may be a little too pleased with himself and the way he’s written these characters, the way in how he keeps each and every character interesting is what really surprises. You know that Pacino’s Collins is going to be a self-centered sham that thinks the best way to cope with past hurt and pain, is to buy people nice, pretty and shiny things, but there’s more to him than that. And you’d think the same thing with Garner’s character, who honestly seems like she’d be so against Collins to begin with (and with good reason), but we soon realize and find out more about her that makes it seem like she too wants Danny back in her family’s life, even if she knows it will all fall apart eventually.

Everything and everyone, initially, seems so written in a way that makes it seem as if they’re just going to be types in this conventional plot, but because they’re given new shadings here and there courtesy of Fogelman, they make the plot seem a tad different. Don’t get me wrong, what you can expect to happen at the end, most definitely will, but it’s not all beautiful and perfect; these characters are still definitely hurt from something and Fogelman doesn’t forget about what makes them all tick. This is Fogelman’s first time being both behind the writer’s desk as well as the camera, and I have to say, the guy’s impressed me here. While he’s not doing anything necessarily ground-breaking as a director, he keeps a nice pace to where we get just the right amount of details of these characters and what makes them breathe, while also feeling like we’re leading to something worth sitting by.

Every family needs a little helping-hand here and there. Even the picture perfect ones.

Every family needs a little helping-hand here and there. Even the picture perfect ones.

Sounds obvious, I know, but when you take into consideration many other movies, it’s nice to feel as if every scene on-display has a purpose and isn’t just thrown in there so we can get random scenes of actors acting actor-ly.

But where Danny Collins really excels, is with the cast who, let’s be honest, had they not all been cast in their own, respective roles, wouldn’t have allowed this movie to work as well as it most definitely does. Danny Collins, the character, may seem like one that Al Pacino has played many, many times before, but what he does so well here is that he cools down all of the wild and wacky eccentrics we’re used to seeing Pacino put-on full-display. The only time that he totally mucks it up, is when he’s acting as Danny Collins, the celebrity figure – every other chance he gets to show that there’s more to him than just a presence on the stage, is when he’s with those he wants to surround himself with. Sure, he’s still a bit of a ham, but he’s a sympathetic one that uses his lovely charms to make those around him happier and feel better about themselves. And as expected, Pacino is great at displaying every ounce of humanity within this character.

However, Pacino gets some solid assistance from the great supporting cast. Bobby Cannavale fits perfectly as Danny’s estranged son who is going through his own personal problems, yet, still seems like he wants to connect with his dad despite all of the problems he’s been through over the years; Jennifer Garner is sweet and subtle as the wife that doesn’t want to control too much of what happens between Danny and her husband, yet, also doesn’t want it all to fall apart like before; Christopher Plummer is a great source of humor here as Danny’s manager, but also has a sweet side to him that makes it easy to see why he and Danny have been together for so very long; and Annete Benning, despite seeming like a total stuck-up gal in the earlier portions of this movie, shows that she’s got more of a fun and zany side to her that’s perfectly compatible with Collins’. And heck, even Josh Peck’s pretty good here.

Now, there’s something you don’t see every day!

Consensus: Everything about Danny Collins‘ plot is predictable, but there’s a certain amount of heart and sweetness guiding it along, even despite the ensemble’s fantastic work.

8 / 10

Just imagine Rod Stewart, as portrayed by Al Pacino and there you have him: Danny Collins.

Just imagine Rod Stewart, as portrayed by Al Pacino and there you have him: Danny Collins.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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Last Vegas (2013)

Think The Hangover, but with menopause.

After getting married and living each other’s lives apart from the other, four old friends (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline), all get together and reunite for a crazy weekend in Vegas, that’s most likely going to be full of non-stop drugs, women, booze, nakedness, bad decisions and moments that remind themselves of the good old days. However, while two of these old friends seem to still be on good terms and having a grand old time (Kline and Freeman), two others don’t seem to be, and most of that stems from the fact that Billy (Douglas) is marrying a gal much younger than he is (art imitating reality?), which is an act that Paddy (De Niro) doesn’t quite condone, nor does he really care for Billy in the first place because of something weird that happened between the two and another girl when they were kids. But nonetheless, all four friends are back together and have as much money as they can spare to have a good time, but they have to realize that they are in fact old guys, and they have to be careful with what they choose to do, that is, before they go too far. Nah, screw that. They just want to have a good time and party like it’s 1959 all over again!

While I would bargain that maybe say, I don’t know, 20 years ago, the pairing of acting legends such as Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline would have not only meant tons and tons of hype that would have already caused earthquakes as soon as the first whispers of it happening were heard, but would have also meant box-office gold right from the start; 20 years later, I have to say that it’s pretty easy to accept the fact that this wouldn’t be happening, or heck, even coming anywhere near to that occurring. And that’s not because these actors are terrible, untalented or were simply “overrated” back in those days; it’s more of the fact that the past 20 years haven’t been too kind to each of these guys, and the material that they choose has kind of suffered because of it.

Give it five minutes and they'll all be battling for who gets to use the pisser next.

Give it five minutes and they’ll all be battling for who gets to use the pisser next.

Granted, I’m always down to see what happens when a bunch of acting legends who never shared the same screen before, get together, do what they do best and have a great time while doing so; but for all of these guys, it seemed a little too late. Then again, I kept the open-mind and believe it or not, wonders actually occurred for me. Not only did the movie have me laughing, but the legends involved with this movie weren’t just doing shop to get that paycheck and hopefully, have enough money to get the pool cover, but in fact, they’re actually putting their hearts and souls into this material, just in order to make it work for us and have us all laughing at them.

And yes, I am saying “at”, because while these guys definitely do seem to be embracing the fact that they are old fellas now, the movie never really celebrates the fact that they’re old, and most likely just pokes jokes at the fact that they can’t quite get it up like they used to, have bad knees, aren’t able to move around with the best of them and are probably creeping more girls out, than bringing them back to their rooms at night. But that’s what being old is all about, so why not share a laugh or two about it, right?

Well, sad to say, no. Old people jokes have never been funny, which means that any Viagra joke you throw in there, just does not deserve to be laughed at or even acknowledged. Not because I’m a softy and have a kind heart when it comes to those before me, but because those jokes have practically been done to death by now, and it’s time for a change. And if not time for a change, then at least give me somebody who can take this cheesy material, and at least transcend into some form of enjoyment, by any means possible.

And yes, these four acting legends are in fact those peeps who can take this cheesy material, and make it about a hundred times better just by showing up, having fun, being themselves and proving to the world that they not only still got it, but can probably make you laugh a lot harder than most of the popular comedic-talents out there in the world today.

While his track-record has probably been better than the other three involved, Michael Douglas is still doing Michael Douglas better than anybody else in the world can, which is a good thing (I think). He didn’t really need to stretch outside of boundaries to really get inside of a character like Billy (guy marries girl almost three times his age, ringing any bells?), but he still seems to be having a good time, palling around with some guys you never see him around with as much. The scenes he has with Mary Steenburgen, who plays a local jazz singer, actually add more to the film, rather than take away from it, which is weird considering that it doesn’t concern any hard-partying, drinking, doing blow or getting down-and-dirty, it’s just fun and somewhat sweet, which is a nice side-dish this movie offers from all of the craziness going on in it.

Yeah, well I do feel like the Kevin Kline in real-life wouldn't care if a girl took her top off. Say, I don't know, maybe a red bikini-top?

Yeah, well I do feel like the Kevin Kline in real-life wouldn’t care if a girl took her top off. Say, I don’t know, maybe a red bikini-top?

Mainly when talking about that craziness, I’m referring to Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman’s performances as their two characters are probably the most vibrant and exciting characters in the whole movie, and they continuously steal the show everytime the camera just keeps it placed on them. Freeman gets a couple of choice scenes where he gets to show his comedic-ability to great effect (the Red Bull rant is something that his Oscar-winning turn in Million Dollar Baby couldn’t even touch), but believe it or not, despite not being the biggest name out of the four, the one who walks away with this all is actually Kevin Kline, mostly because he’s working with the type of fun, electrifying and charming material he’s been so deserving of his whole life, and hasn’t quite gotten it since he won his Oscar all those years ago. The story surrounding Kline’s character is done well, only to be shown as a stupid and poor-attempt at trying to get him to remember why he loves marriage so much in the first place, but whenever it’s just Kline saying or doing something goofy, the movie is a blast to watch. He and Freeman have great chemistry that makes you feel like they’ve been buddies all their lives, but its Kline who just owns the screen everytime it’s given to him, like I expected it to be. I’ve been rooting for Kev all these years, and I’m glad to finally seeing it pay-off.

Though I didn’t mention him with his fellow costars, Robert De Niro is still charming and worth watching, even when he’s mucking it up a whole lot as Paddy. However though, it’s obvious that out of the four, he’s the only who really needs these types of movies to keep reminding us that yes, he’s still talented, and yes, he’s still got what it takes to have us both laughing and crying at the same time. He did that last year with Silver Linings Playbook and i can only hope that it continues on from here on out. That also means no more pieces of junk like the Family or Killing Season either, Bobby!

Consensus: The material that these legends have to work with in Last Vegas, surely isn’t the best they’ve ever been dealt, but that doesn’t phase any of them a bit since they absolutely make every second count, have a ball with one another and as a result, give us a movie that may not be perfect, but still feels like an opportunity to see four acting legends team-up together, that wasn’t a waste of precious good time, talent or money.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Hopefully this means that they're waving "bye" to bad choices in the future. Then again, probably not.

Hopefully this means that they’re waving “bye” to bad choices in the future. Then again, probably not.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net