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jersey boys review

Jersey Boys is the new biographical musical film that is based on the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name.  The film tells the true story of musician Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and is directed by Clint Eastwood.  Eastwood is a five time Academy Award winner with two Best Director wins to his name for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.  Jersey Boys the Broadway musical won the 2006 Tony for Best Musical.  Eastwood chose to use mainly stage actors in the cast who were used to playing the role every night on stage.  John Lloyd Young reprises his Tony-winning role as Frankie Valli and Donnie Kehr and Erica Piccininni also reprise their roles from Broadway.  Other cast members include the always great Christopher Walken, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, and Michael Lomenda.

The film follows the life and musical history of Frankie Valli (Young), Tommy DeVito (Piazza), Nick Massi (Lomenda), and Bob Gaudio (Bergen) who became known as the Four Seasons.  From their early days on the streets of New Jersey and their run-ins with the law, to their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, the film details many of their ups and downs.  Everything started to come together for Frankie, Tommy and Nick when they agreed to allow Bob to join the group.  Bob was a singer and songwriter and is credited for creating most of the hit music in their catalog.  Bob did the writing and Frankie had the million dollar voice.  Even with the number one hits, the wild parties, the fights within the band, whatever it was, the music still shined through and left its imprint on American musical history.

I can’t decide if Clint Eastwood wanted to make a Jersey Boys movie or a Jersey Boys stage musical on film.  There is no denying the entertainment value in the story and the great music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but I can’t say that I liked the way the movie came together.  First off, I was somewhat put-off by the narration from the actual characters in the movie, and this went on from start to finish.  I get it that this is how it works on stage, but this much narration shouldn’t be necessary for a feature film.  Secondly, the look of the film felt fake and almost cheap and I couldn’t tell whether it was supposed to be like that or not.  I’m thinking that I just didn’t get it and Eastwood’s vision of the film just didn’t jibe with me.  I’ve come to expect more from an Eastwood directed film.  Lastly, the acting left a lot to be desired.  The actors are fantastic singers, but their acting skills aren’t quite as polished.  On a positive note, the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons really carries this movie; they had some massive hits that are still relevant today.  Their story is a great one to be told, but I just feel that it works better on the Broadway stage than it does on the big screen.  If you’ll never have the chance to see the musical on stage and you’re a fan of 50’s music, then I would say that the Jersey Boys movie is probably worth a viewing.  Otherwise, I’d recommend to save your money and wait for the opportunity to watch it at home.

Grade:  C

Jersey Boys opens in theaters on Friday, June 20.

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