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Jersey Boys - Movie Review

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Jersey Boys - Movie Review

2 stars

The stage has gone dark, Mr. Eastwood. Lights out.  Time to go home.

There’s really no explanation for this bizarrely grueling adaptation of what has been described as a fun and lively Broadway play. Nominated for several Tony Awards and still running strong, Jersey Boys single-handedly rescued the nasally falsetto of Frankie Valli from slipping into relative oldies obscurity because it was fun and joyous. Eastwood – with this joyless adaptation - attempts to put him back on the shelf with his film. Jersey Boys is the antithesis to bubblegum music.

The film would be better to swallow if its identity crisis wasn’t so blatant. Sweetly innocent tunes mix with a heavy dose of criminal activity - without the grime of Scorsese – sink this production into a messy puddle of wax. Seriously, exactly what type of movie does Jersey Boys want to be? One on hand, you have its wannabe Goodfellas leanings and – with music staging fitting for Grease – you have the harmony and cheese of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. But a song-and-dance routine this is not.

Jersey Boys has been imagined (or reimagined) as an extended episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. You know the story…raised out of the gutters…yada yada yada…and, yes, the tired blue-tinged look to the film (thanks to Eastwood’s ongoing cinematographer Tom Stern) makes the story even more yawn-inducing. This is a sad story. We get it. Forget about the pastels of the era. You’ll see none of that here. This is all about mood.

The film stars John Lloyd Young as Valli, who essentially can do no wrong in the part he’s been perfecting since winning a Tony for the role. Jersey Boys earns both of its stars from his performance. Valli’s fellow Four Seasons are played by Michael Lomenda, Erich Bergen and Vincent Piazza and also help to earn the film some credit, even if their dialogue is bada-bing bad. Rounding out the cast is everyone’s favorite wiseguy, Christopher Walken as the old fool who takes the boys under his wing and guides them to their fortune and fame.

The problem is that writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice never try to convince the audience that the music matters; that it is worth turning a life of crime around and, by treating the music as second or even third to conflict, they turn a musical into one long and utterly boring conversation. This is decade-spanning material, but there’s virtually nothing uplifting except for the snippets of songs the film allows us to witness. And there’s even less breaking of the fourth wall than in the play. Had Eastwood allowed in more winks and nudges, the film might have been spared from some of its weighty self-serious gravitas.

Unfortunately, Easwood’s Jersey Boys is more proof that he should have hung up his directorial hat with Gran Torino

Jersey Boys - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout.
Runtime:
134 mins
Director
: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice
Cast:
John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda
Genre
: Biography | Drama | Musical
Tagline:
Everybody remembers it how they need to.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Stolen goods? No! These fell off a truck."
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site: http://www.jerseyboysmovie.com/
Release Date:
June 20, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: From director Clint Eastwood comes the big-screen version of the Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys.” The film tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons. The story of their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the songs that influenced a generation, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll,” “Bye Bye Baby,” “Who Loves You,” and many more.

No details available.

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