Beyond the Sea

Bomb Rating: 

Spacey would have looked more believable playing Joan Rivers. I was convinced this was a science fiction film for a while because Spacey was wearing so much makeup I thought he was an android.

Singer Bobby Darin died in 1973 at the age of 37 while undergoing surgery to repair a heart defect. Actor Kevin Spacey is 45, yet he tries to play Darin during the last 13 years of the singer's life. Spacey isn't the right choice for such a portrayal, but since Kevin Spacey is the director and writer of this film, he's not about to let a little thing like looking more like Darin's father keep him from the role. Sadly, however, Spacey would have looked more believable playing Joan Rivers. I was convinced this was a science fiction film for a while because Spacey was wearing so much makeup I thought he was an android.

Spacey tries to dodge this problem by framing the story as a movie-within-a-movie: Darin is making his own life story. However, this says volumes about Spacey's lack of talent as a director. He not only uses this frame, which is both needless and senseless, but he treats us to a sickening overabundance of child acting from his young Bobby Darin actors. These are the kind of precocious children most normal people want to strangle. So, not only does the film have the insufferable child actor quotient working against it, it's got Spacey beating the audience over the head with Darin's childhood and its important influence. Poor Bobby was a sick child. Poor Bobby's mother died early. Poor Bobby discovers that his "mother" (Brenda Blethyn) was actually his grandmother and his "sister" (Caroline Aaron) was really his mother. Oh, boo hoo.

When Bobby first meets Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth) on the set of "Come September," it just serves to underscore the age discrepancy again, since the casting of Bosworth is actually age appropriate by comparison. Throughout, we get the sense that Spacey is using the influence provided by his Best Actor Oscar to follow through on a curious obsession with Darin. Some people would call this valiant and heartfelt. I call it stupid and slightly embarrassing.

And here's the real problem: Bobby Darin just doesn't seem that interesting. Spacey wants us to think Darin had some profound influence on music, but I didn't see it. So he made it big with "Splish Splash." That's not exactly Beethoven's Fifth.

Spacey may indeed have some acting talent. However, it's really script-picking talent that he needs. After winning that Oscar, his eye for quality has spotted such gems as "The Big Kahuna," "Pay it Forward," "K-PAX" and "The Life of David Gale." That's a suitable list of nominees for the award of "Worst Picture of the Decade." Add "Beyond the Sea" to that list.

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