THE SPACE BETWEEN (2021)
Starring Kelsey Grammer, Jackson White, Julia Goldani Telles, Paris Jackson, Andy Daley, William Fichtner, Andrew Kai, Angela Halili, Ashley Eskew, Delon de Metz, Glenn McCuen, Gabriel Hammett, Ashley Eskew, Delon de Metz, Glenn McCuen, Dallas Blake, Derek Berg, Wendell Kinney, Alexandra Fatovich, Jimmy Valdez and John Patrick Amedori.
Screenplay by William Porter.
Directed by Rachel Winter.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 95 minutes. Rated R.
It says something – I’m not sure what – when a movie takes its title from an old Dave Matthews band song. (At least they didn’t call it “Ants Marching: The Movie.”) And yet, I guess it makes some sense. The Space Between is about the music industry in the Matthews’ heyday of the 1990s – it takes place in 1996, to be exact – during the last boom period in the music business before Napster and streaming and piracy sort of blew everything up.
Of course, the movie isn’t about Dave Matthews. It is about a fictitious musician named Micky Adams (Kelsey Grammer), who was a huge star for a brief time in the 1970s, before he disappeared (to a luxurious compound in Montecito) and became something of a recluse – with some mental issues and a definite drug habit. He periodically sends in unsellable “albums” that his longtime label must reject – his most recent is called Doors and is just 45 minutes of him opening and closing doors.
However, Micky is not the main character in The Space Between. That is Charlie Porter (Jackson White), a wannabe music exec who is currently toiling in the mail room at a big label. He is determined to make his way to the top, so he frequents the local clubs looking for talent.
He falls for a beautiful young singer named Corey (Paris Jackson), who seems to be incredibly open to sleeping with anyone who might advance her career. Every time she was on screen, I kept thinking two things – 1) I can’t believe that’s Michael Jackson’s daughter and 2) back in the 1990s, it was still pretty rare for people to have nose rings. However, she does a good job with a slightly underwritten character.
To get her attention, he pretends he is higher up the totem pole at his label than he is. Then, he stumbles into an opportunity which may get him promoted to A&R at the label. The catch is this. The sleazy head of the label (William Fichtner) has had it with Micky Adams – even though the guy helped build the label, at this point he is just a drag. Therefore, if Charlie can go up to see Micky and get him to sign a buy-out of his contract, he will get a much better job.
The problem is that Micky is infamously… well eccentric. The last few label reps who went to visit him never returned. He has a pet llama which he parades around his property. Even Micky’s pretty daughter Julia (Julia Goldani Telles) acknowledges he is out of his mind.
Micky doses Charlie’s drink right after they meet and the two end up running around his estate naked. (Don’t ask…) However, the world at large has so much love for his earlier work that most people give Micky a pass for his strangeness.
Strangely, every time one of “Micky’s” songs is played in the film, there is an MTV-type chyron giving the name of the fictional song, artist, album, and record label. (It even uses the same font style as MTV did.) However, these songs are never shown as music videos, they are just songs people are listening to on a CD, on record, or even performed live in a little club, so I’m not sure where those little chyrons are supposed to be coming from.
The songs are rather good – the music was written by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and is reminiscent of James Taylor or early Tom Waits before his voice was completely ravaged – though none are quite as great as the script keeps trying to convince us they are. Kelsey Grammer’s vocals are not bad at all, although they are a little gruff. (As is his speaking voice in this particular role.)
Through spending time together, Micky regains his desire to create art, while Charlie realizes that the music business is not just about business.
The Space Between seems to be a little unsure of whether to play all of this for comedy or a drama. This also confuses the viewers, who can’t decide whether to take Micky’s oddness as a source of humor, or as a source of pathos.
Therefore, it all comes down somewhere in the middle. (No, I’m not acting like the movie and consciously referencing another 1990s song by Jimmy Eat World.) It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. It’s honestly a bit hard to believe, and Micky seems a bit more like a caricature than a character. The movie finds itself lost somewhere in the space between good and bad.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 14, 2021.