Fans of “Frasier” may have found the singing voice of its star, Kelsey Grammer — who crooned a paean to “tossed salads and scrambled eggs” over the sitcom’s end titles — a balm, a comfort and a further source of humor. One is curious as to how they’ll take “The Space Between,” a comedy/drama in which Grammer plays a burnout ’70s rocker and sings nearly an LP’s worth of tunes written by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo.
No, I am not making this up. The movie, directed by Rachel Winter from a script by Will Aldis, is set in 1996 and narrated by a glib wannabe, Charlie (Jackson White), who works in the mailroom of a record company and haunts L.A.’s Viper Room, lying to bands about his ability to sign them. Porter’s script nearly knocks itself unconscious trying to establish period bona fides; the names Spacehog, Hole, Guns ‘n’ Roses and River Phoenix are dropped rapid-fire.
Back in the mailroom, Charlie overhears the company head, Donny (William Fichtner) complain about Micky Adams, a Dylanesque (but weren’t they all?) singer-songwriter from decades past, still living off the label. Charlie volunteers to hurry to Montecito and persuade Adams to sever his contract.
Hence, Grammer, with frightful hair and attitude, is soon dosing Charlie with psychedelics and dispensing teachable moments as his disapproving daughter Julie pops in and out of the picture.
This is one of those movies that never quite sinks to the risible depths you kind of wish it would. Grammar’s singing, stentorian in a Harry Chapin mode, is unusual, for sure. But once past the awkwardness Grammar shows some sharp instincts in his characterization. And Paris Jackson, as a would-be protégé of Charlie’s who gets a brushoff, gives a knowing and authentic period-L.A.-rocker turn, especially impressive given she was born well after the movie takes place.
The Space Between
Rated R for language, nudity, themes, ’90s L.A. rock scene material. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. Rent or buy on FandangoNow, Amazon, Vudu and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.