Bobby Darin Biopic
In the era of cool, he was the soundtrack.
Running Time: 121 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a
Country: Germany, United Kingdom, United States
Theres no point in denying it, so I wont even try. Kevin Spacey is a hugely talented man. Not only is he one of the finest actors of his generation, but hes also proven himself to be a more than capable director and, if Beyond the Sea is anything to go by, hes not half-bad at singing either. In fact, the guys so good at everything he does that its only his increasingly-obvious pattern baldness that prevents folk like me from wanting to kick him.
But, having said all of that, I cant help but wonder how worthwhile a project this is for the man. It tells the life story of renowned 50s and 60s crooner Bobby Darin, the mook-talkin smoothie wholl always be remembered for a range of all-time classic recordings from the sublime Beyond the Sea or Mack the Knife, to the ridiculous Splish Splash. Its film-within-a-film stuff, with Spacey taking us inside the heros attempts to play himself in his own life story. That leaves the door swinging wide open for flights of fancy as much as historical accuracy, with Darin looking back on his days with the mantra memories are like moonbeams we do with them what we want. (So not really like moonbeams at all, then).
Without a doubt, this is a well-made, well-acted, well-performed movie. Spaceys direction has a style all of its own, and he seems happy with the challenge of having fun behind the camera even when he spends almost every scene of the film in front of it. What really impresses, though, is his delivery of Darins music. Hes got a fine voice on him, and Ive already amended my Chrimbo list for this year to ask Santa for a copy of the soundtrack.
The problem I couldnt get past, though, is that Darins story just isnt particularly interesting. Theres only one real twist in his tale, and its nothing more shocking or controversial than youd find in any small screen soap opera. Sure, Darin was one of the music industrys all-time greats. He married movie star Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth, playing her here, bears a striking resemblance), picked up an Oscar nom, and spent many of his years (including childhood) battling against illness. But so what? Its not that I dont have respect for the man thats not the issue. The point is that I just dont think his story was eventful or different enough to merit this film being made and, for all his ability and enthusiasm, Spacey fails to convince me otherwise.
Beyond the Sea is a nice film to watch, and an even better film to listen to, but as a whole it left me feeling a little under-whelmed. I know biopics are the in thing just now (its not long until the Ray Charles story Ray hits the screen as well), but there have been plenty more interesting characters in history to choose from than Bobby Darin. Sorry, Bob it doesnt mean to say Im not still loving your work.
It's Got: Dancing in the street, and some literal record-breaking.
It Needs: To straighten up that toupee.
See it for the music