Jersey Boys Review
Movie musicals tend to be a mixed bag of both quality and casting. Often instead of using the original cast of Broadway musical or other talented artists, movie companies tend to lean towards big names and adapting the play in directions that don't make much sense.
Recent attempts to bring musicals to the screen have been more faithful to the play and have even used members of the cast. Hairpray for example used most of the elements of the play and despite using John Travolta and then unknown Nikki Blonsky turning in memorable roles. Last year's Les Miserables, lead by Hugh Jackman reminded viewers of the power of the play and how known actor's (with the notable exception of Russell Crowe) can still translate an older play into OSCAR worthy material. Contemporary musical Rock of Ages though containing a number of catchy musical numbers never really gained popularity possibly due to the unusual casting or maybe Tom Cruise's singing ability,
Jersey Boys is the semi-fictionalized retelling of the musical group the Four Seasons. We meet Frankie Valli in his younger days with his group of friends who attempt to find a way out of their Jersey suburb any way they can. Between trying to get signed as a band and running scams to make extra Frankie's friends eventually get caught and take their turns in jail while Frankie barely misses going to jail. Frankie soon becomes a four man group that performs cover songs and eventually their own material. This four man group meets up with a old friend Bob Crewe who agrees to produce their music. The Four Seasons start to produce a string of hits and with it fame and fortune. We then follow the group through their ups and downs and their eventual induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jersey Boys has a lot of elements that work well. Clint Eastwood's direction though dull brings to life the sets and staging from the original production. The cast made of the mostly Broadway actors who have done the roles, are all very talented and have good chemistry. The music is very catchy and spread evenly through the movie. What doesn't work is pacing. The movie starts off slow and builds to the point of where the team's career takes off. Then as they encounter internal problems, the movie slows to almost a crawl with no musical numbers. The movie then rebuilds to the finale. Christopher Walken though a talented actor spends his little time in this movie almost over the top acting the role of the mentor to Frankie. There are also pieces of the plot that seem to have been left out for no other reason than time concerns. We hear of plot points but then are either forgotten about or not brought up. Also there are issues with how the movie jumps in time. Frankie's kids grow up and we don't get the sense why they jumped forward. Even though the movie was shot on locations, sometimes they feel like sets built on a soundstage.
As far as movie musicals go Jersey Boys isn't the worst that has hit the screen. It features some great acting and some catchy music. The direction and the writing tend to be a bit flawed but you liked the original music and wanted to know a bit more, this might be the movie for you.