Cinematic Releases: Jersey Boys

Clint Eastwood brings the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to screens this weekend.

"I never thought it was
possible to sing four part harmonies
to Slayer. Damn."
Jersey Boys has been a successful stage play/musical for years, so why not bring it to theaters with Clint Eastwood as director? It's simple. He knows what he's doing.

A film that could have been a rousing musical feat with a cast starring Broadway actors mixed with Hollywood stars should have been a slam dunk for fans of the stage version. However, Jersey Boys (the movie) feels like a jumbled mess from the beginning but finally takes off after the first forty five minutes with quite a few excellent musical numbers and the vocals of John Lloyd Young finally causing the movie to take flight with his freakishly evocative impersonation of Valli's unique voice. 

"Ha. That note was so high,
dogs around the world
started whimpering."
This is a straight adaptation of the stage version. So, please don't expect many deviations or side stories. This is in fact the live version transposed to film by a much older Clint Eastwood paying respect to one of the biggest pop bands of his generation with a story that captures the essence of that musical period with spot on recreated  performances and actors that truly inhabit their respective roles. 

The major stumbling block of Jersey Boys is that it feels way too much like the actors are performing for a live audience instead of film. At times it feels unnatural and at others it gives a distinctive feel that other stage to screen adaptations lack. Again, it's not a perfect movie by any means, but it's a lot better than most other movies that have tried making this massive jump.

"Frankie, what I'm saying is that
Walk Like A Man needs
more cowbell......."
For fans of music, Jersey Boys maintains something else that is rather unique to this type of movie. The studio sessions and live performances feel real, not like most other movies where you can tell the actors have no idea how to hold a guitar or how to sing. Jersey Boys is a stand out film in that aspect and fellow musicians will truly find the attention to those little details absolutely captivating as these guys do their darnedest to replicate everything about The Four Seasons. Right down to costume design, hair and makeup, and set design, Jersey Boys is an era recaptured on film with a little Christopher Walken thrown in for good measure.

The first third of the movie is a little rough, but as the story begins to unfold, Jersey Boys takes on its own persona and steadily transforms in to an above average feature. The history lesson is intact and the musical numbers are solid. When Frankie Valli's voice was first aired on the radio, people didn't know what to think That same feeling is written all over this movie. It takes a little while to get used to. But when you're warmed up, they go in for the emotional pop culture kill with hit after radio hit and enough weighty dramatics that will make any non-fan a fan and will reinvigorate interest in this formidable and iconic band.