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.
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The musical stage-to-screen adaptation has had its premiere screening.
Jersey Boys received its premiere screening in New York City on Monday where director Clint Eastwood and the musical adaptation's cast were present and correct in sharp suits. Based on the musical of the same name, the biopic tells the story of four young men who came together to form popular sixties rock group The Four Seasons.
Eastwood may be better known for his hard-man action films but the 84 year-old film legend and music fan revealed that Jersey Boys was a passion project: "What was fun for me is that it's about musicians [...] The Four Seasons had all these hit songs, but they were juvenile delinquents! They were just guys from the neighborhood, a place where, if you were a singer, you were looked down upon as strange, unless you were Sinatra," Eastwood revealed, via The Daily Mail.
Starring Christopher Walken, Boardwalk Empire's Vincent Piazza, Mike & Molly actor Billy Gardell and Jersey Boys stage star, actress Erica Piccininni, the movie is fairly unique in that the actors were required to sing live.
Continue reading: 'Jersey Boys' Musical Given Hollywood Makeover By Clint Eastwood
The Four Seasons was one of the most adored rock bands of the sixties with its charismatic partnership of four singers led by the infamous Frankie Valli, whose powerful falsetto took the world by storm. But like any chart sensations, they started from the bottom living a difficult life in New Jersey. Despite achieving the fame they so desperately yearned for as young musicians, with success brought a lot of struggles; the band members' relationships became frequently tested, particularly as both fans and producers became interested in bringing Frankie's voice out more and more. Meanwhile, they had their personal lives to worry about with family troubles and problems involving the Mob - but in the end, the successes of tunes such as 'Sherry', 'Big Girls Don't Cry' and 'Walk Like a Man' would make them the one of the most iconic acts of the decade.
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John Lloyd Young, Drew Gehling, Jeremy Kushnier and Matt Bogart - 3,000th performance of 'Jersey Boys' on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre New York City NY United States Thursday 7th February 2013
Date of birth
4th July, 1975