Life doesn't offer do-overs. But maybe it can offer work-arounds.
Our hero, an aging, hard-living rock star, unexpectedly gets a letter that had been sent to him 40 years ago by former Beatle John Lennon. (We recognize 'Beautiful Boy' and 'Imagine' in the soundtrack.) Inspired by a true story, this is Hollywood's version.
Written with great humor and directed unerringly by Dan Fogleman ("Crazy Stupid Love") this star-studded troop never makes a misstep; there are no weak players. Full disclosure: For some reason, I have never been a fan of Al Pacino, but he won me over in this one.
Here are the key players:
·* Al Pacino ("Manglehorn") our eponymous hero is a self-absorbed coke head, a thrice-married playboy and a burned-out performer, sick and tired of his career, his fans and his life. The letter causes an epiphany.
·* Christopher Plummer ("Elsa & Fred") Frank is Danny's loyal manager who finds the letter. He just didn't think he'd have to go to New Jersey... TWICE! His amusing back story about Danny is important.
·* Bobby Cannavale ("Blue Jasmine") Tom is the first person Danny thinks about when he decides to re-examine his life. Cannavale plays decent men wrenchingly well.
·* Jennifer Garner ("Draft Day") Samantha loves her husband and her daughter. She is positive Danny will be sent packing the minute Tom sets eyes on him. Her practical support and quiet affection is vital.
·* Giselle Eisenberg ("Sex Tape") Danny's bonus is a winning little girl named Hope. She's cunning, cute, and conquers him in a heartbeat. I hope Hollywood doesn't take the shine off this little gem!
·* Annette Bening ("Ruby Sparks") Mary Sinclair works at the Hilton where Danny books a room. He checks her out while she checks him in. To their great amusement, she and Danny can synchronize their patter; the dialog is terrific!
·* Melissa Benoist ("Glee") Janie is the desk clerk at that Hilton. She's the one who messes up the guest register.
·* Josh Peck ("Red Dawn") Nicky is the parking attendant at the Hilton. He will NEVER forget Danny!
To me, the most shocking thing is that these are all nice people, including Danny, cocaine habit and all. There will be no gunshots, no violence, no vehicular mayhem, and no blowie uppie stuff; just eight (count 'em - 8!) good people to root for. Are we sure this is an Al Pacino movie?
The closing credits include part of an interview with the folk singer who actually DID receive a letter addressed to him from John Lennon; it arrived decades after Lennon's death. Don't leave too soon....