Jersey Boys became a Broadway musical sensation filled with electricity and verve that jumped off the stage and riveted even those in the back row. The story of how Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons went from the streets of New Jersey’s toughest cities to the top of the pop charts is an American musical classic presented as the purest form of joy. So, what happened on the way to the big screen?
Central to the movie version (from director Clint Eastwood) of one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time is that the story of the Four Seasons is different depending on who in the group you ask.
That’s an element of the stage production, but it just fades into the storytelling as the show takes you away. On screen, it became a narrative tool that Eastwood goes to right until the end. As such, it feels broken, disjointed and completely uneven.
The audience gets the various angles on the history lesson that is the Four Seasons, and then there are the musical moments. Instead of some of the greatest pop songs of the 20th century feeling like they are taking the story ever higher, Eastwood all but stops the progress of his film so we can enjoy the tunes.
But, we have to be honest -- the key to the success of the Broadway show is the music. And no, it’s not enough to feature a movie built around several amazing musical numbers, but we can find the joy in simply hearing how the songs came to be and hearing them in all their glory.
And the cast does its best to make it work. The four guys who play the band -- John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda -- all rivet. And there's a Supporting Actor Oscar-worthy performance from Christopher Walken.
Perhaps, and we feel that this is sacrilege as we are huge fans of his, but maybe Eastwood was the wrong choice to helm this musical.
Eastwood was ready to make A Star Is Born musical with Beyonce and then she got pregnant. We guess that Eastwood got it in his head he was in musical mode, and put his name in the hat for Jersey Boys. And if Eastwood wants to direct, you let him.
Our Jersey Boys review wonders how a show that explodes with energy can produce a film that feels so mundane. The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is one of the greatest in American popular music.
And this gets to one of Movie Fanatic’s biggest pet peeves in cinema. You only get one chance to make a biopic. Nobody ever remakes one! So therefore, when one gets it wrong, it is truly sad. A life story is always worth telling and it deserves the highest respect. In this case, it just feels drab except when those four angels are making music.