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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.56%
Worth A Look33.9%
Just Average: 13.56%
Pretty Crappy33.9%
Sucks: 5.08%

7 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Beyond the Sea
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by Elaine Perrone

2 stars

As anyone who loves opera or was enchanted by Johnny Depp's portrayal of J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland can attest, it is fairly easy to overlook – and often forget entirely – the difference between the physical appearance of a gifted actor/singer and that of the character he or she is enacting, when one is transported by a glorious performance. Much has been made of the incongruity of 44-year-old Kevin Spacey portraying Bobby Darin from his early 20s to 37, the age at which he died in 1973. It is true that every single day of the disparity in age shows, despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that Spacey’s Darin is wearing more hideous hairpieces and heavier eye makeup than Kate Bosworth, who plays his wife, Sandra Dee. Still, when Spacey burst onstage and began performing “Mack The Knife,” I happily shooed reality out the door, with the expectation of a transcendent moviegoing experience at the hands of this man who had channeled Darin’s voice, facial features, and mannerisms completely. Sadly, at the end of the day, the report is that the movie around him is so utterly dreadful that his incredible musical impersonation comes off as merely a parlor trick.

I simply have little kindness for a movie that wastes – and a director who wildly overdirects – such wonderful talent as Brenda Blethyn, Bob Hoskins, Caroline Aaron, and Greta Scacchi in the furtherance of a project that might just as easily have been titled Spacey’s Conceit. (John Goodman, who can be his own worst enemy, gets no sympathy here.)

2004 turned out to be the Year of the Romanticized Bio-Pic, some (Kinsey, The Aviator, Ray) far better than others (De-Lovely, Callas Forever). Even those at the south end I deemed worth a look for the acting, music, and production values. The only thing Beyond the Sea has going for it is Spacey's uncanny mimicry of Bobby Darin, which one can glean from watching the trailer. My advice here is to "skip it," but if you simply must have more, I'd recommend picking another movie you want to see at a multiplex that is featuring this one. Then, try to schedule it so you can watch the opening "Mack The Knife" number, go see your other movie, and finally saunter back to listen to Spacey's re-enactment of Darin's final Las Vegas stage show.

Much like De-Lovely, Beyond the Sea is an oddly structured recreation of a celebrity's life in which the subject is also the viewer. Kevin Kline's Cole Porter had the Angel Gabriel to guide him through the events of his (highly fictionalized) life as if seeing it performed on stage. Spacey's equally highly fictionalized Darin has his younger self (William Ullrich) to do the job of helping him look back on his life while the two of them play it out as a movie. The device is disruptive enough in itself, but Spacey and co-writer Lewis Colick distance the audience even further by nudging us with the movie's anomalies, as if we dare question them. In an early scene, there is a jab at Spacey's age with the rhetorical, "How can you be too old to play yourself?" Before the credits roll, the movie ends with a strange disclaimer that factual events have been fictionalized and that not all the characters are real. In between, the writers seem to feel they have to keep reminding us that is not really Spacey's hair, either. Gee, thanks.

The movie also ends with a pre-credits update of several characters and the observation that "Bobby Darin is still swinging." On that note, I will rethink my advice, reiterating only the "skip it" part. Avoid the multiplex and head to your favorite music outlet instead for a copy of the real Bobby Darin's Hit Singles Collection.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10633&reviewer=376
originally posted: 12/22/04 17:56:01
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/18/15 Carol Beyond dreadful. 1 stars
2/14/08 vmd A self serving piece of poo=poo 2 stars
12/01/07 Charles Tatum Spacey's film is nothing short of amazing 5 stars
5/25/07 Andii Great film, great music what more could you want 5 stars
11/17/06 BoyInTheDesignerBubble My favorite actor directs the worst movie ever made. 1 stars
9/17/06 Phil M. Aficionado Clumsy is the right word for this one; it doesn't build or stay on track. Has the jitters 3 stars
7/14/06 JM Synth Arguably more enjoyable than "Ray" 4 stars
9/02/05 Joe Branagan Great Film 5 stars
7/04/05 HL Thoroughly enjoyable! 4 stars
2/28/05 Darlene Fredericks Kevin Spacey/Bobby Darin are ONE!!!! 5 stars
12/22/04 Josie A truly beautiful, uplifting & joyous film with an amazing performance from Kevin Spacey. 5 stars
12/18/04 Arnold Handler Terrific, sensitive film about a singer I first appreciate now. 5 stars
12/05/04 Bill Merrill Overacted, underwritten, ill-conceived tripe 1 stars
11/16/04 Ralph Woolsey ASC Tour-de-force for KS; all depts. top-notch 5 stars
10/02/04 Les Best film of the year! 5 stars
9/19/04 A Lofsky Very Disappointing 2 stars
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  17-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2005



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