When I saw the previews for "Beyond the Sea," despite the presence of Kevin Spacey, I had absolutely no interest in seeing this film. It looked silly, stupid and boring. Boy, was I wrong! "Beyond the Sea" isn't the masterpiece Spacey intended it to be, but it's an impressive little story worth watching.
Spacey stars as Bobby Darin, the popular singer who died at a young age of a rare heart condition. Spacey, who has since gone on a Bobby Darin tour (some claim his reenactment of Darin's songs is better than the original singer), obviously has a passion for the material, as he wrote, directed and stars in this film. The movie, a drama-comedy-musical, is more devoted to the man than his life, though Spacey also chronicles his career pretty well, too.
What works for "Beyond the Sea" is the music, the performances and the character, and what doesn't work are the musical numbers and the strange storytelling method Spacey uses. Though I didn't know it going into the movie, Bobby Darin music is actually quite good, and the music alone makes this picture worth a watching. Add in another good (but not great) performance by Spacey and impressive turn by soon-to-be-Lois Lane Kate Bosworth (funny enough, Spacey will play Lex Luthor in the new "Superman" movie) and we've got ourselves a movie!
Unfortunately, where Spacey goes wrong is his attempt to be unique. Some complained that Spacey was too old to play Darin, considering Spacey is older than the age when Darin died - and much of the movie takes place earlier in his career. Spacey makes fun of this fact by treating the story as if it's part of a stage play, a method another musical "De-Lovely" did much better. In "Beyond the Sea," Spacey's Darin has conversations with a childhood version of Darin, but the results aren't very interesting and downright distracting. On top of that, the musical numbers are not anything special; I would have preferred to just see Spacey singing on stage as Darin would have rather than Spacey's attempts to make more of a musical out of the film by breaking into song at random times.
"Beyond the Sea" is recommended to anyone who likes musicals. Great music, good performances and an interesting story put "Beyond the Sea" in the upper tier of 2004, though it is in no way a classic. In another year no one will remember this film, but before it's forgotten it may be worth a gander.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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