Jersey Boys Review
By Rich Cline
Music-lover Clint Eastwood adapts the long-running stage musical for the big screen with mixed results: it recounts a terrific true story but has an uneven pace. It also fails to put the events into any kind of context in the period, which leaves the achievements of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons feeling isolated from the rest of the music industry of the time. So it's difficult to engage in much of what happens.
In 1951 Newark, Frankie (John Lloyd Young) works as a barber's assistant, hangs out with a mafioso (Christopher Walken) and sings in a band with his pals Tommy and Nick (Vincent Piazza and Michael Lomenda), troublemakers up to all kinds of scams. But it's when they added songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) to the band that things begin to take off. Working with ace producer Bob Crewe (Mike Doyle), they release three No 1 singles in a row: Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry and Walk Like a Man. And their fame grows from there. But Tommy's money problems eat away at the band's unity, and Nick begins to think that he's had enough.
Oddly, there the story of the Four Seasons feels dragged out to sustain a two-hour 15-minute film. The narrative is fractured and episodic, with long stretches in which nothing happens that hasn't been portrayed in every other musician biopic. Eastwood directs the film like a serious period epic, draining much of the colour from the screen while concentrating on shades of grey and brown. But the real problem is the script, which never manages to build up any momentum. Big events pale in interest next to the fantastic music, while a confusing flashback jumbles the timeline unnecessarily. And occasional scenes are narrated by the actors straight to camera, which is extremely distracting on a film screen, especially when Nick stops singing and starts chatting to us in the middle of the band's iconic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The cast is very good at creating the New Jersey tough guy subculture, as well as the musical performance pieces (including one proper movie musical number for the final credits). And the classic songs are performed with energy and personality. Young anchors the film nicely as Valli, although his ageing make-up is a bit ropey, but this is perhaps because Eastwood never makes it clear how much time has passed. Has this whole story happened in six months or 10 years? It's hard to say without looking up the details somewhere else. And the problem is that while the film is a lovely collection of iconic songs and lively characters, it's just not resonant enough to make us want to read the full story.
Watch 'Jersey Boys' Trailer
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 20th June 2014
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros.
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 102 Rotten: 92
Cast & Crew
Starring: Christopher Walken as Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, Vincent Piazza as Tommy Devito, Freya Tingley as Francine Valli, James Madio as Stosh, Sean Whalen as Engneer, Kathrine Narducci as Mary Rinaldi, Francesca Eastwood as Waitress, Mike Doyle as Bob Crewe, Steve Schirripa as Vito, Barry Livingston as Accountant, Alexis Krause as Party Girl, Jeremy Luke as Donnie, Silvia Kal as Producer's Wife, John Lloyd Young as Frank Valli, Erich Bergen as Bob Gaudio, Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi, Johnny Cannizzaro as Nick DeVito, Joey Russo as Joey, Billy Gardell as Our Sons Owner, John Griffin as Billy Dixon, Elizabeth Hunter as Francine Valli jeune, Lacey Hannan as Angela, Renée Marino as Mary Delgado, Erica Piccininni as Lorraine, Steve Monroe as Barry Belson, Rob Marnell as Joe Long, Troy Grant as Ed Sullivan, Grant Roberts as Johnny, Kara Pacitto as Bubble-Head #2, Michael Patrick McGill as Officier Mike, Nancy La Scala as une femme passionnée d'art, Clint Ward as Officier Stanley, Jackie Seiden as les anges, Matt Nolan as un ingénieur, Meagan Holder as la chanteuse de Jazz, Joe Abraham as un chanteur Rockabilly, Phil Abrams as les maisons de disques, Joe Howard as un prêtre, Katelyn Pacitto as Bubble-Head #1, Ben Rauch as une personne de New Season, Bill Watterson as un musicien, Annika Noelle as la petite-amie de Nick, Derek Easley as Biker Inmate, Kim Gatewood as les anges, Alexandra Ruddy as Waitress, Keith Loneker as Knuckles, Marco Tazioli as le petit-ami mauvais garçon de Francine, David Newton as le rendez-vous de Mary, Donnie Kehr as Norm Waxman, Scott Vance as un inspecteur, Kyli Rae as les anges, Travis Nicholson as le chanteur country, Allison Wilhelm as la fille du vestiaire, Tye Edwards as Crewe Bartender, Jon Paul Burkhart as un journaliste, Lou Volpe as le père de Frank Valli, David Crane as un employé de l'Holiday Inn, Lou George as les maisons de disques, Michael Butler Murray as un musicien, Michael Lanahan as les maisons de disques, Aria Pullman as la femme séduisante, Jacqueline Mazarella as une femme en colère, Danielle Souza as une femme légèrement vétue, Miles Aubrey as Charles Calello, Johnny Dinu as le batteur de New Four Seasons, Maggie Beal as Antonia Valli, Jeff DePaoli as le régisseur, Vincent Selhorst-Jones as Hank Majewski, Angel Murphy as Jazz-Cat