Movie Review: Jersey Boys (2014)

Posted: April 25, 2015 in Drama, Music

jersey boys

Frankie Casteluccio (John Lloyd Young) was born in Bellevile New Jersey in 1934.  His first dream was to be a barber. One of his first acquaintances was a small-time mobster named Gyp DeCarlo . (Christopher Walken)   Frankie and his friends were small-time crooks who stayed one step ahead of the law.  What saved Frankie from a life of crime was his singing voice, a high falsetto perfect for the doo wop groups that were popular at the time.  Frankie’s fiend, Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) lets Frankie sit in with his band, the Four Lovers.  The Four Lovers were struggling to get noticed until future star Joe Pesci (Joseph Russo) introduces the band to singer/songwriter Bob Gaudio,(Erich Bergan) while working in a bowling alley.  Bob immediately starts writing songs for the group, they got recording time with producer Bob Crewe. (Mike Doyle) One of the first songs Bob Gaudio wrote was Sherry.  Frankie changes his named to Valli, thanks to his wife Mary, (Renee Marino)and changes the name of the group to The Four Seasons.  Sherry becomes a hit, and the Jersey Boys are on their way.  But, unbeknownst to Frankie, Tommy has borrowed money to bankroll the band.  When the bill comes due, will the tensions already wracking the band blow the band apart?

There is nothing exceptional about this movie it’s a run of the mill cautionary tale about the dangers of fame, with a little mob action thrown in for good measure.  The story is almost hackneyed, the boys achieve fame, party like there’s no tomorrow, and the girls come streaming forth, after the band become stars.  The combination of booze, money, and women creates tension between Frankie and the band members and Frankie and his wife.  It’s all been done before, going as far back as A Star is Born. The perils of rock stardom are also parodied in This Is Spinal Tap.  This movie ends up somewhere between serious drama and parody.  The fact that it’s a true story doesn’t really add much to the narrative.  The songs are great, Sherry, Dawn, Walk Like A Man, Oh What A Night, My Eyes Adore You.  Frankie Valli had a lot of hits.

Most of the fault with this movie lies with director Clint Eastwood, he tells the story from the perspective of Tommy DeVito and not Frankie Valli, that is a mistake.  And the characters talk directly to the camera, breaking the fourth wall between actors and audience, this is a very amateurish move, from an accomplished director like Eastwood.  The movie is also far too long at two hours and 15 minutes, and the pacing is very slow.  There is a subplot about Valli’s daughter that was unnecessary, and should have been edited out.  This was a Broadway hit, but the movie is dull.

The acting is fine.  John Lloyd Young reprises his Broadway role, and his singing and acting add a lot to the movie, but just not enough.  All the actors overdo the young Italian New York area accents a little and that makes it seem like parody more than drama. Christopher Walken playing a mobster sounds like someone doing an impression of Christopher Walken playing a mobster.

Jersey Boys:  Hits a lot of flat notes.


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