BEYOND THE SEA

(2004)
With Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn, Greta Scacchi, Caroline Aaron
Directed by Kevin Spacey
Reviewed by JB

Beyond the Sea     BEYOND THE SEA, about the life of singer Bobby Darin, was lambasted by the majority of critics as a failed, embarrassing vanity project, and some even wondered if the film's subject was even worthy of his own Hollywood movie treatment (but I guess porn star John Holmes was, huh?).  It did poorly at the box office and was gone from theaters after ten weeks.  When I first heard about BEYOND THE SEA, I too suspected it would be a  mess.  Kevin Spacey directs, Kevin Spacey stars as Bobby Darin in a screenplay co-written by Kevin Spacey.  Kevin Spacey... sings and dances?  Sounded like a Hollywood ego running wildly amok.  Maybe the critics were right?

     Screw them all.  Although it is a clearly a film that falls into the "love it or hate it" category, I confess that within ten minutes, Spacey the actor, writer, director, singer and dancer made me forget all my doubts.  Spacey's energy is focused on one thing - reminding the world of Bobby Darin's talent.

     The movie's a time-bending fantasy that can be confusing if you think about it, so don't even bother.  Just accept that an older man is playing a younger Bobby Darin, and playing him extraordinarily well, right down to superb and swinging recreations of great Darin tunes like "Mack the Knife" and "Artificial Flowers".  There are times when you may find yourself really enjoying Darin's way with a song only to remember that you are actually listening to Kevin Spacey singing.  Spacey's decision to do his own vocalizing could have sank the movie, but the man pulls it off with the same aplomb he shows in every other area of the movie.  Despite support by Bob Hoskins, John Goodman and Kate Bosworth (perfect as Darin's wife, actress Sandra Dee), BEYOND THE SEA is virtually a one-man show. 

     And if you see it and think it is an embarrassing vanity project, just consider that there are lots worse things you can do with your time and money than create a heartfelt tribute to Bobby Darin.  3½ - JB

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