Clint Eastwood is a bizarre choice to direct a musical. He got his start in Westerns; mainly on the television show Rawhide and Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Over the years, Eastwood became capable of not only starring in movies but also produce and direct his own movies. Not to mention his well-deserved Oscar for his 1992 Western Unforgiven. After the successful Gran Torino, Eastwood has mostly been directing some minor hits (Changeling, Invictus, Hereafter). For someone who has never seen the musical, I have to admit seeing the movie version of Jersey Boys once was good enough. It’s not a bad movie, but it could have been a lot better.
The movie starts off in 1951 in Belleville, New Jersey. Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) tells the audience he’s willing to go for the real story. He meets up with his friend Frank Castelluccio – later, Frankie Valli – (John Lloyd Young) at a barbershop. Frankie’s mother is not appreciating the friends he’s hanging out with, because they like to get into a ton of trouble especially for breaking and entering. One night at a nightclub, DeVito asks Valli to be the singer of his band. A lot of people are blown away by his falsetto voice, and hoping he will become famous one day
“I’m going to be big as [Frank] Sinatra,” says Valli as he talks to his future wife.
Once DeVito forms a quartet featuring Valli as the lead singer, they show their support, especially by mob boss Gyp DeCarlo (Christopher Walken). As they head into the 1960s as the well-known Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, they continue to show their fame despite the rough times they had as a group.
There are solid performances by the Four Seasons, notably John Lloyd Young who perfectly captures the spirit of Frankie Valli with his powerful voice and strong heart. However, he – along with Christopher Walken as the mob boss – can’t hold much drama to make the Jersey Boys‘ sluggish pace faster. Throughout the 134-minute running time, I almost fell asleep once and begged for the movie to move on. Probably there is something wrong with the film’s cinematography, or maybe Clint Eastwood is following the footsteps of Martin Scorsese.
As the music comes into play, Eastwood speeds the pace up with its vibrant colors and energy to have the audience tapping their feet along with the Four Seasons. The finale is all-around fabulous, giving me a reminder on how great music used to be back in the day. With modern music becoming repetitive, it’s always refreshing to hear the classics we know and love. Coming from a fan of music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, I never knew who the Four Seasons were before I heard about Jersey Boys. After seeing the movie last night, I immediately listened to their songs on Spotify. I am happy but sad I went to see the movie. Seeing the Broadway version might be expensive, but hell, I assume $70 to see a play is more worthwhile than $10 to see a film adaptation.