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Beyond the Sea

Genre: Drama/Biography/Musical
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
Written by: LEWIS COLICK
Released by: Lions Gate Films

In Short: In "Beyond the Sea," Kevin Spacey sings and dances admirably, but the story didn’t take us much of anywhere.

When the Shark Bites…
Bobby Darin's Singing Tribute Struggles to Stay Afloat
By Andrew Bender

We’re big fans of the music of Bobby Darin, the 1950s and ‘60s singer whose genre-transcending hits included Mack the Knife, Splish Splash, Dream Lover and this movie’s title song. The biggest thing we learned from Beyond the Sea, however, was that Kevin Spacey can sing and dance – really well, actually – and we’re still scratching our heads over why we should care.

Spacey directed this film and cast himself as Darin, whom we follow from a childhood threatened by rheumatic fever, through sudden stardom and, of course, the all-too-predictable flameout. Occasional musical reveries of Spacey with a full dancing chorus provide colorful highlights, but otherwise Beyond the Sea is little more than an archipelago of life moments without an engine or even a rudder to navigate among them. That’s despite a talented cast including John Goodman, Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn and the up-and-coming singer Peter Cincotti, whose voice is not unlike Darin’s own. At about the three-quarter point, a twist finally lends what in any other movie would be a major plot point, but by then we’d lost interest.

It would be easy to dismiss this film as an everyday biopic with the attendant pitfalls – namely, trying to sum up the life of a real person in under two hours – but it really appears to be more of a vanity project for Spacey, who perhaps is gunning to become the next Ewan MacGregor (think "Moulin Rouge") or Richard Gere (think "Chicago").

The central problem is giving up the story – for whatever reason – has left "Beyond the Sea" with more loose ends than under Darin’s toupee (one of the few other things we learned about him from the movie). Perhaps the biggest vanity was on the part of the production team, which seems not to have learned the age-old lesson that when telling someone’s story, it helps to decide on a story to tell.

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