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
"Andy Paterson and Kevin Spacey would like to thank the entire cast and crew from both the UK and Germany for their hard work and dedication. The film could not have been completed without their belief and effort. We are forever grateful to them for helping bring this film to the screen." See more »
More of a Spacey showcase than an absorbing biopic
Spacey sings. Spacey dances. Spacey wears a succession of ghastly outfits.
This biopic of Bobby Darin splits cleanly into two modes. In the first, Kevin Spacey does highly watchable singing and dancing routines. In the second, he portrays a rheumatic singer who defied doctors and male-pattern baldness to become a star.
Although the film flicks back and forth between the two modes, they never gel as one seamless story, which is a problem for a biopic of a man whose life contained only a handful of interesting events.
It doesn't help that Spacey's Darin interrupts the plot every so often by stepping back from the narrative and discussing the film with his younger self. It is a device that does little more than remind you that you are watching a film - a fact that is never far from your thoughts anyway because of the large number of somewhat contrived dance numbers.
Nor are the biographical sections very convincing. It is clear well before the extensive pre-credits disclaimer that the director has taken some diabolical liberties with Darin's life, making you wonder what you have learnt from the film. Did Darin really take his name from a half lit neon "Mandarin" sign outside a Chinese restaurant? Did he really die after a successful comeback gig in Las Vegas, or was that just a narrative invention to end on a high note?
The upshot is a film that is more a celebration of Kevin Spacey's impression of a world-renowned entertainer than a celebration of the entertainer himself.
It is a tribute to Spacey's talent as an actor that the film remains likable, not least because he doesn't have the polish of an accomplished director. Too many scenes feel as though he was too shy to make his fellow cast members do one more take.
There is enough energy on display to allow most Darin fans forgive the film's weaknesses, but the more picky viewer will feel slightly disappointed.
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