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“Jersey Boys” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

June 18, 2014

jersey-boys-movie-trailerClint Eastwood…directing a film adaptation of a Broadway Musical??? “Jersey Boys”??? When you look at the body of work Eastwood has done, it’s hard to imagine that he would ever do a musical film, but in the last half decade there’s been a sudden change in Eastwood’s mood/style. From his supernatural drama “Hereafter” to the inspiring political sports drama “Invictus”, at Eastwood’s age, trying newer and exciting types of films is all he really has left in his career, and at the age of 84, he’s not ready to give up just yet.

Based up on the sensational Broadway musical, “Jersey Boys” tells the story about Frank Valli (John Lloyd Young) and the Four Seasons. The film gets to the heart of the relationships at the center of the group-with a special focus on front man Frankie Valli, the small kid with the big falsetto. In addition to following the quartet’s coming of age as performers, the core of the show is how an allegiance to a code of honor learned in the streets of their native New Jersey got them through a multitude of challenges: gambling debts, Mafia threats and family disasters. Jersey Boys is a glimpse at the people behind a sound that has managed to endure for over four decades in the hearts of the public

The film is told through three different narrations; breaking of the fourth wall that is, led by Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda). These three of the Four Season members share their perspectives on the rise and fall of their new 1960s rock group. The surprising thing about the Four Seasons, that I for one never knew, was how close to ties they were with the Mafia. However, it shouldn’t be too surprising being that they’re from New Jersey, and as DeVito states there’s only a few things you can do to survive in Jersey, become famous, sing, or join the ‘crew’.

The movie as whole is held tightly, there are times when the film takes a turn that honestly should not have gone, unless we were going to further delve into deeper backstory. I’m speaking of course about Frank Valli’s subplot with his daughter, and yes it’s tragic what happen to his child, no parent should have to bury their kid, but if we’re not going to take the time to be emotionally invested with these characters, then their untimely demise will be diminished and we’ll ultimately feel nothing, and that’s what happened to me, I felt nothing.

The bulk of the film, following the tragic mishaps of Tommy DeVito is very interesting. I mean, how can someone who had SO MUCH going for them, quickly fuck things up? It’s tragic, because it never hit DeVito until his later years, when the Four Seasons reunited for the induction at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. DeVito’s pride is too heavy for his own good, you could say his story is a cautionary tale for many up and coming artists of today, sure the times have changed, but the business remains relatively the same.

With catchy tunes that will certainly give many baby boomers some major deja vu, “Jersey Boys” is one of those rare musicals that doesn’t try to beat around the bush as being exclaimed as a ‘MOVIE MUSICAL’, it can be subtle at times, fair, plays out more as one of those Oscar bait musical bio-pics, and in a sense it is, but when it hits home with the Broadway flair, it really shines.

GRADE: B+

Special thanks to Gabby Levesque for attending the screening and sharing her input.

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