John Lloyd Young Vincent Piazza Christopher Walken Michael Lomenda Erich Bergen
Acclaimed director Clint Eastwood has turned the Broadway hit Jersey Boys into a movie musical. You know, that rare genre that we might see once a year like the nearly forgotten western. After the brief resurgence of the movie musical about a decade ago, it’s back to being an afterthought at the box office. The fact that an Eastwood film is opening mid summer (far outside his usual fall/Oscar season slot) is a sign Warner Bros. doesn’t know what to do with this film. It might appeal to the Glee television crowd, but basically the 1950’s doo-wop musical isn’t going to find an audience under 50 years old. Those familiar with the Tony award winning show will discover familiar faces, as Eastwood used Broadway stars instead of popular actors.
Tommy (Piazza) calls his buddy Frankie’s voice angelic and hopes it will get them both out of Jersey and on the stage. With the help of their mob friend Gyp DeCarlo (Walken), Tommy and his ever name-changing band, The Four Seasons finally manage to convince someone to record them and their success is fueled by the high pitched voice of Franki Valli (Young). Like every band their problems started from within; with strong personalities and Tommy’s poorly managed finances, everything they worked so hard to achieve begins to unravel. But these guys are from Jersey, and they will help their fellow man no matter what he has done.
I don’t think you have to be a fan of the music within a musical to enjoy it; that being said, there was nothing appealing about this particular genre of music. Musicals like Mama Mia, Moulin Rouge or the last musical to win best picture, Chicago, also didn’t particularly contain my personal flavor of music. However, their productions were so creative and extravagant that it felt more like an event or adventure, not to mention all three of those musicals had unforgettable female leads. Jersey Boys doesn’t have that; it’s a lot of characters narrating as they talk directly to the viewer, so you are constantly reminded you are watching a film.
Known for his one take, long windedness and slowly peeling away plot layers, Eastwood may not have been the best choice for this project. His films usually fit his own personality and this does not. Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Chef) was the first choice to direct, but turned it down. Jersey Boys is the type of film or project that you are predestined to like or hate because it doesn’t offer anything original, unique or surprising; it’s exactly what the trailer promises. It’s a rise and fall musician story not unlike every other rise and fall musician story made into a musical. What’s worse is that it’s so drawn out that even the funnier jokes don’t seem as funny.
Final Thought – Eastwood’s musical doesn’t offer the dying genre anything unique, original or exciting.
By: Dustin Chase