Danny Collins

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Danny Collins Movie Poster Image
Cast elevates sometimes-edgy story about musician.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Someone may seem wayward and lost, but (almost) no one is a lost cause. Try to find the beauty and generosity in that person. Also, both accountability and forgiveness take you down the path of redemption.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Danny Collins is certainly flawed: He's insecure, he relies on material goods for his happiness, and he needs others' approval. But he's also tender-hearted and, when necessary, can face his mistakes and try to repair them. His son also has a tough shell, but he's forgiving (and encouraged by his kind wife).


Some arguments get heated, but nothing leads to violence.


A woman's naked breasts are visible in the shower (pubic region is covered by shaving cream). It's hinted that she's been cheating on her fiance, who's also later seen in a shower. Some innuendo.


Many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole, and more.


Lots of luxury goods/services seen and used. Some talk about what having money gets you. Labels seen include Toys 'R' Us, Steinway, Mercedes Benz, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Man shown snorting cocaine with his fiancee and her friend; his young granddaughter walks in on him doing drugs. Lots of drinking, sometimes to the point of inebriation (one scene involves tequila).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Danny Collins, though it has its share of humor, also deals with some pretty serious/heavy themes, including a father's abandonment of his son, a potentially terminal illness, infidelity, an identity crisis, and one man's reckoning of the professional and personal decisions that have affected the course of his life. There's also some innuendo and nudity -- a woman is shown in the bathroom, breasts bared and pubic area covered in shaving cream -- and scenes of adult drinking and drug use (in one scene, a child wanders in right after someone snorts a line of cocaine). Frequent but not constant strong language includes "s--t"and "f--k."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

What's the story?

Musician Danny Collins (Al Pacino) seems to have it all: He's rich, he's famous, and he still attracts fans who've been loyal to him through the decades. But they all seem to want Danny to just play his greatest hits, including songs written by others. When he was young, this wasn't the career he'd imagined having; an earnest songwriter with a talent for authentic lyrics, Danny struggled with the idea of success, a worry he shared with a music magazine writer. Unbeknownst to Danny, his idol, John Lennon, read the interview and wrote Danny a letter, suggesting he give him a call. But Danny didn't get the note for decades -- and he wonders now whether he would have gone down a different path musically and personally (he abandoned his only son, now a man with a family that Danny longs to get to know) had he received it. A retreat to a Jersey hotel to work on new music -- and the friendship of an astute and empathetic hotel manager (Annette Bening) -- may provide him with the answers he's seeking.

Is it any good?

For so many reasons, DANNY COLLINS shouldn't work. First, there's the plot, which, despite an intriguing premise, doesn't always feel original. And then there's the subplot about the son Danny abandoned, which distracts from the aforementioned intriguing premise and takes the story in a different direction. There are also plenty of cliches: Danny's rock-star lifestyle reads like a paint-by-numbers confection (wild parties, booze, drugs).

And yet, Danny Collins works, grounded by Pacino's textured, layered performance. The actor, who's brilliant but has been accused of gilding the lily sometimes, turns in a bravura portrayal that doesn't lean on the usual tricks. His Danny seems like a person we know, or whom we'd like to know, no matter how flawed or short-sighted he can be. His vulnerability is appealing. Same for Bobby Cannavale, who grounds his role as Danny's estranged son in true accessibility. Again, he feels like someone we know, or want to know. Frankly, the entire cast is fantastic, making more of a story that starts off promisingly but winds up in all-too-familiar places.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Danny Collins depicts drinking and drug use. Are they glamorized? Are there realistic consequences?

  • How is this movie different from -- or similar to -- other movies that deal with a professional crisis that turns personal? What do you think the end message is intended to be?

  • What's the significance of the John Lennon letter?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music

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