Monday, July 7, 2014

Movie Review: "Jersey Boys" (2014)

Movie"Jersey Boys"
Director: Clint Eastwood
Rating: R (WUT???)
Running Time: 2 hours, 14 minutes
Image Source
This movie showcases the true story of "The Four Seasons" as told from the perspective of each of its members. Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) starts off telling us about himself, Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) growing up as friends in New Jersey. They spent time playing in small bars and bowling joints while getting side work from a local mob boss named Gyp DeCarlo (Christopher Walken). Tommy and Nick were in and out of Prison while Frankie always seemed tp catch a break since he was the youngest of the group. Frankie also had a golden voice, but it wasn't until Joe Pesci (Joseph Russo), yes that Joe Pesci, introduced them to a song writer named Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) that the group really started to become something bigger. The other band members take turns telling the rest of the story of their rise to fame, their eventually breakup, and Frankie's continued perseverance through difficult times. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Before seeing this movie, I somehow became obsessed with it. We have never seen "Jersey Boys" on stage, so the obsession was sort of strange. Though we love their music, we didn't really know much about The Four Seasons, but for some reason, this movie looked so compelling that I watched the trailer multiple times a day for about a month before it was released in theaters! Really!

After all is said and done, we are left with a movie that has its highs and lows. The beginning of the movie starts out quite strong but definitely fizzles fast. For a movie about a band/a movie that is technically a musical (since it's adapted from the stage production), there's really not that much music, per se. It's no different than "La Bamba" or "That Thing You Do!" The music pretty much consists of their performances on stage and recording sessions of their records. When we think of musicals, we think about certain plot points being told through song, or that everybody in the street starts singing and dancing randomly. There is one scene with these types of theatrics going on and it comes at the end of the movie as the credits are rolling. While it's a great clincher scene, we wish there would have been a little bit more of this high energy performance throughout the rest of the film. It really seems like a biopic, not a musical. Maybe the stage production is more high energy, we don't know, but seeing this movie made us want to watch the play. At least it made me want to watch the play. Maybe I can convince BigJ to go next time we are in Vegas.

Another problem we had is that the story of the band as whole isn't that compelling, especially once they make it big. There is some conflict throughout their career, but there is immediate resolution, at least in this portrayal. Frankie goes through a lot of personal tragedy, but it seems very glossed over and more of a side note. This begs the question: WHY is there not only a stage play about this band, but now a movie as well? They have some really great songs, but is that enough? It's not a tale of drugs, sex, or violence so much as it is about money troubles, but even their connections with the mob and criminal pasts don't seem that badass to warrant such attention.

This film didn't really seem like the kind of movie Clint Eastwood would put his stamp on, and I would have loved to see Jon Favreau's take on this movie (he was the initial pick for director). It has a lot of Eastwood-style camera work, but other than that, if you didn't know it was directed by him before seeing it, you'd probably never guess he was at the helm. We say all of this as if the movie was bad. It's not a bad movie by any means, and it's certainly not as bad as most critics say it is, but it just could have been better. The part of the movie we loved (and others hated) was that Eastwood insisted on using the stage actors, not big name Hollywood stars, to play The Four Seasons. We think this was an authentic, brilliant choice, especially since John Lloyd Young won a Tony award for his portrayal of Frankie Valli some years ago. This choice also ensured that the already classic songs by The Four Seasons we done a great justice. And how! We couldn't go 10 minutes without singing silently to ourselves...okay, *I* couldn't go 10 minutes without singing silently to myself!

Overall, this is a historically accurate portrayal of the band, even though we don't quite know why it merited any storytelling at all. That being said, "Jersey Boys" has got some great humor in the first half of the movie and is a relatively enjoyable film. It definitely helps that it is filled with infectious, makes-you-smile Oldies pop music we could never do without.


My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 53%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

No comments:

Post a Comment