I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Monday, March 03, 2008

Beyond The Sea (2004)

I remember singer Bobby Darin when I was a kid. TV networks used to regularly have "summer series" to offset the stream of reruns during that season. Darin had a summer series, and it was quite entertaining. He was a talented guy who could sing silly rock n' roll ditties like "Splish Splash", then swing a standard like "Up A Lazy River", then go folk on audiences with stuff like "If I Were A Carpenter".

Beyond The Sea follows Darin (Kevin Spacey) from being a sickly child in the Bronx to his stardom in nightclubs and in films. Darin is raised by an extended family which includes his sister Nina (Caroline Aaron), brother-in-law Charlie (Bob Hoskins), and mom Polly (Brenda Blethyn), who totally believe in his talent. Darin's talent, plus his cockiness and arrogance, propel him forward. Darin wants to live life to the fullest. He developed heart problems as a child, and was told he wouldn't live past age 15. He makes it past that age, but the specter of death follows him for the rest of his life.

Darin meets actress Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth) on the set of a movie. They don't seem right for each other. She's a bit young and innocent, and he's brash. Then there's the matter of her stage mother, Mary (Greta Scacchi), controlling her daughter's moves. But love blossoms between the pair, and they get married. Darin keeps pushing along in his career, which eventually causes some tension between him and Dee, who wants him to spend more time with her and their son. But Bobby Darin can't stop. He's on a mission.

As what happens with careers that are red hot, at some point they cool down. Darin finds himself up against the changes in America during the 1960's, and his type of entertainment falls out of favor. Darin becomes politically aware and he even considers running for office. Then he gets some explosive news from his sister about his parentage which causes him to find out who he is and where he fits in.

The story is set up with Darin being led through events of his life by the younger version of himself (William Ulrich). That device, which has been used in some other films, doesn't work all the time. I would have liked it better if this story was told straightforward. Spacey (American Beauty, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil) does a great job evoking Darin's larger-than-life presence, and he does his own singing without overly apeing Darin's style.

John Goodman appears as Darin's manager; he was the title character's husband on "Rosanne" (1988-1997) and was in the cult classic The Big Lebowski (1998). Bob Hoskins was in Nixon (1995) and Mona Lisa (1986). Kate Bosworth was Lois Lane in Superman Returns (2006).

The real Bobby Darin gained an Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Captain Newman, M.D. (1963). "Beyond The Sea" is the name of a hit he had in 1960. Darin passed away in 1973, after open heart surgery. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1999.

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