Movie Review: "Jersey Boys" (2014)
Clint Eastwood's latest film, "Jersey Boys" opened in theaters on June 14. The film is an adaptation of the Tony-winning musical from 2006, and tells the story of the Four Seasons. John Lloyd Young reprises his Tony-winning role as Frankie Valli, and much of the cast has also appeared in the Broadway production. Despite some major problems, "Jersey Boys" is a completely enjoyable film, especially at a time where the only alternatives at the movie theaters are sappy teen love stories and the twenty-eighth sequel to some superhero movie.
Rather than being a full-out theatrical musical, "Jersey Boys" is very much a dramatic film, that features musical performances only when they make sense with the plot, but not necessarily to further it. Those are the two different ways musicals are usually adapted into films. The first way has worked many times in recent memory ("Hairspray", "Mamma Mia"), but has failed as well ("Rock of Ages"). But the second way works better when there are darker aspects of the script ("Carmen Jones"), and I think fits "Jersey Boys" better. The only big musical number comes during the end credits, and is enjoyable, but definitely out of place. The hits like "Sherry" and "Walk Like a Man" come in when necessary, but don't take away from the plot.
The major problem with the film is the script's lack of focus. A wide range is covered, but at no points does the film slow down to explain and go into detail. The origin of the group is covered, but then their success is rushed past to get to how they fell apart, with an annoying lack of specificity about their money troubles. There is a poignant scene after Valli buries his estranged daughter, although their estrangement in the first place is another area left vague.
One of the things that the film gets right is casting. Every role is perfectly cast, and there isn't a weak link. Christopher Walken deserves a mention for his supporting role as a mafia boss Gyp Decarlo. Aside from the casting, the directing is another well-done component of the film. Eastwood is a pro, and has two Oscars to prove it, so their nothing about the direction to complain about.
Overall, "Jersey Boys" is a good film. There are some parts that definitely could have been cut out, but the bulk of the film is worth watching. Most of the movies coming out this summer are sequels or spin-offs or remakes or sequels, so "Jersey Boys" should provide a nice escape from "Transformers 10: Days of Future Spider Man Movies that are terrible, but will make hundreds of millions of dollars anyway."