Consummate entertainer Bobby Darin (1936-1973) is making a movie about his life. He's volatile, driven by the love of performing, ambition, perfectionism, and belief that he's living on borrowed time. He begins in the Bronx: a fatherless lad learning music and dance from his mom. His career starts slowly, then "Splish Splash" puts him at the top of the charts and on "Bandstand." He wants to be an entertainer, not a pop star, so he aims for the Copacabana; then it's on to the movies, where he meets and marries Sandra Dee. After, it's balancing career, health, marriage and family life, balances he doesn't always keep. Throughout, conversations with his boyhood self give him perspective. Written by
For those who cannot "suspend disbelief" in order to enjoy a musical, this movie, and my review, are not for you. For the rest of us, "Beyond the Sea" is a delight.
I read critics who said Kevin Spacey is too old to pull off a 20-something Bobby Darin. Wrong! Kevin Spacey's acting captures the essence of BD; after the first ten minutes of the movie it seemed that Kevin Spacey WAS Bobby Darin irrespective of age. I also read critics who said Spacey's dancing was stiff and awkward. Wrong! The production numbers were fabulous. His singing, acting, dancing were awesome, and it's a performance that should not be short-changed in this year's awards' season (although I fear it might be overlooked).
Kate Blodgett, too, did a great job of portraying Sandra Dee (but I wish they had kept her hairstyles more true to Sandra Dee of the 1960's).
My only disappointment is that so many important details about Bobby Darin's life were quickly glossed over or totally omitted. For example, there was no mention of his early years in the Pocono's; his unfulfilled romance with Connie Francis; his friendship with Dick Clark; his songwriting collaboration with Don Kirshner; and his subsequent marriage after divorcing Sandra Dee.
Nevertheless, I loved "Beyond the Sea" and plan to see it again this week. I'm afraid it won't still be in the theaters next week. It almost appears as though some of Hollywood and the newsprint critics have dissed it with almost a jealousy toward Kevin Spacey's Herculean efforts to bring this to the screen, not to mention his compelling performance.
I don't know if it will attract a younger viewing audience; but, if you're a Baby Boomer, this is a must-see.
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