Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn, Greta Scacchi
Written by: Kevin Spacey, Lewis Colick
Directed by: Kevin Spacey
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language and a scene of sensuality
Running Time: 114
Date: 09/11/2004

Beyond the Sea (2004)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Hack the Knife

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This Bobby Darin biopic reportedly spent about 20 years going through various drafts by many different screenwriters -- including James Toback and Paul Schrader -- before Kevin Spacey grabbed it and made it all his. Borrowing more than just a little from Bob Fosse's All That Jazz (1979), the film takes place in a kind of flashback/dream structure in which Darin (Spacey) talks with himself as a little kid. This non-reality also allows for the 45 year-old Spacey to play Darin, who died at age 37. Spacey's Darin thinks very highly of himself; when he snatches teen heartthrob Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth), it feels more like trophy gathering than romance. Yet Spacey's own gigantic hubris fits in perfectly, and when Darin grouses about not winning the Oscar for Captain Newman, M.D. (1963), you can feel Spacey going through the same thing. When Spacey sings in Darin's voice, it's an act of supreme ego; he's as sure of his Darin impersonation as he is of his own greatness, and it works. One thing Beyond the Sea is not, and that's small. It's a monstrous guilty pleasure for people who want to see a whole movie just like the asparagus scene in American Beauty. Spacey has been in a bad slump for years now, and, if Beyond the Sea isn't exactly a comeback, at least it shows the real Spacey sounding his mighty yawp.

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