For his performance, Pacino was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards.
Aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins (Al Pacino) cannot give up his hard-living ways – but then his manager, Frank Grubman (Christopher Plummer), uncovers a 40-year-old undelivered letter to him from John Lennon. After reading the letter, Danny decides to change his way of life. He travels to New Jersey to attempt to connect for the first time with his grown son, Tom Donnelly (Bobby Cannavale), whom he sired from a casual relationship with a woman who died 10 years before. Tom has a wife, Samantha (Jennifer Garner) and seven-year old daughter, Hope (Giselle Eisenberg).
Seeking a new start, Danny forswears touring and checks into a Hilton hotel in New Jersey, much to the delight of the young staff. He begins to woo the hotel manager, Mary (Annette Bening).
Tom initially rejects the father he believes abandoned him, but Danny persists, getting Hope, who has ADHD, into an exclusive school for children with special needs. He learns Tom has what doctors say may be terminal leukemia, inherited from his mother, and begins to attend doctor's visits with him. Tom's dislike of his father gradually gives way to the need for his support.
Inspired by his feelings for Mary and his happiness at having a family, Danny begins to write new songs. He books a one-night performance at a small club. When the audience demands he play his old material, however, Danny loses his nerve and gives a rote performance. Ashamed, he resumes drinking and doing drugs, damaging his relationship with Mary and his family. Tom confronts him, causing Danny to angrily reveal Tom's leukemia diagnosis, something Samantha had not been aware of. Tom, feeling betrayed, tells Danny never to bother his family again.
Danny finds out from Frank that his finances are in danger, due to all his excessive habits, and that he needs to go on tour again. Danny goes to the hotel to mend fences with Mary. Tom is visited by Frank, who tells him that his father, despite many flaws, is a good man. Tom then finds Danny waiting at the doctor's office to hear his diagnosis. Danny reassures him that everything will be all right, which, after the doctor arrives, appears to be the case.Al Pacino as Danny Collins
Annette Bening as Mary Sinclair
Jennifer Garner as Samantha Leigh Donnelly
Bobby Cannavale as Tom Donnelly
Christopher Plummer as Frank Grubman
Nick Offerman as Guy DeLoach
Cesar Evora as Gabriel
Josh Peck as Nicky Ernst
Fernando Colunga as Fernando
Michelle Vieth as Selena
Katarina Čas as Sophie
Melissa Benoist as Jamie
Giselle Eisenberg as Hope Donnelly
Eric Michael Roy as Young Danny Collins
The story is based on a real-life situation, in which John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote a letter in 1971 to the English folk singer Steve Tilston, which was unknown to him for 34 years. The real letter was signed "John + Yoko", while the letter in the movie was signed "John".
In November 2010, Steve Carell was attached to play the rocker's son but he ultimately dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. In June 2011, Al Pacino was in discussions to star in the film. In October 2012, Jeremy Renner was announced as Carrell's replacement and Julianne Moore also joined the film. Both were eventually also replaced; by Bobby Cannavale and Annette Bening, respectively. Filming began in July 2013 in Los Angeles. The crew filmed a scene with Al Pacino during a concert of the band Chicago in Los Angeles.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 78% based on 122 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Thanks to Al Pacino's stirring central performance — and excellent work from an esteemed supporting cast — Danny Collins manages to overcome its more predictable and heavy-handed moments to deliver a heartfelt tale of redemption." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 58 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty named the film one of 2015's "overlooked gems".
In addition to Pacino's Golden Globe Award nomination, two of the film's original songs, "Don't Look Down" and "Hey Baby Doll", were long-listed for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Original Song.