Spacey doesn't try to make sense of Bobby Darin as a singer and actor; he resorts instead to hero worship. He frames the story in a tired conceit where Darin is making an autobiographical movie and, by viewing the rushes, comes to understand the difference between his image and reality. But Spacey doesn't illuminate how Bobby Darin differed from the bland teen idols of his day like Bobby Vee or Bobby Curtola. There's no mention of how Darin became part of the second generation of Tin Pan Alley performers like Neil Sedaka, Carole King and Neil Diamond. We never grasp what drove him to become an actor who was attracted to diverse roles in movies like "Pressure Point" (where he plays an incarcerated American Nazi) and his shell-shocked pilot in "Captain Newman M.D." (which earned him an Academy Award nomination). The movie is basically the rise and fall--and final redemption--of Kevin Spacey's idol.
Although the picture is aggressively ambitious, there isn't an ounce of common sense anywhere in it. When Spacey performs Darin's songs, the renditions come across as creepier than mimicry--he fetishizes the singer. Worse, when Darin puts the moves on actress Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth), he suggests a lecherous old man rather than a romantic matinee idol. "Beyond the Sea" is beyond belief. Starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn, John Goodman and Greta Scacchi. Directed and written by Kevin Spacey. Produced by Arthur Friedman, Andy Paterson, Jan Fanti and Kevin Spacey. A Lions Gate release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for some strong language and a scene of sensuality. Running time: 121 min