Friday, December 31, 2004

Movies opening this week

Beyond the Sea (Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, dir. Kevin Spacey)
Man, I am so sick of biopics. This one had the potential to be interesting, as Spacey approaches the story of singer Bobby Darin in much the same way that Irwin Winkler approached the story of Cole Porter in De-Lovely, treating it as a sort of mystical movie being made by Darin about his own life. This gives the fortysomething Spacey the license not only to play Darin, who died at 37, but also to have his actors break out into full-on production numbers at any time. It's also an easy, lazy excuse for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies, one that Spacey trots out frequently as if he feels overly defensive.

There are indeed some wonderful, colorful production numbers, especially the performance of the title song, and Spacey sings all of Darin's songs with aplomb (Roger Ebert even said that Spacey was a better singer than Darin). But it's all in service of a bland, by-the-numbers script that, even with the fantasy element, doesn't do anything but hit all the basic biopic notes. And strong as Spacey's voice is, I still would have liked to hear the actual Bobby Darin sing in a movie about Darin's life, one in which we're constantly told how great a singer Darin is. I admire Spacey's ambition here, but he seems to have gotten lost in his own big dreams. Opened limited Dec. 17; in Las Vegas this week

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