So I was the youngest person in the theater by at least 20 years. Not really a relevant way to begin a review, but I just found it interesting.
“Jersey Boys” is directed by Clint Eastwood and is based off the Broadway play of the same name. It tells the semi-fictionalized tale about the rise and fall of the band The Four Seasons. Three out of the four actors who portray the Seasons’ members also portrayed them in the Broadway version, and Christopher Walken stars as a mob boss.
Clint Eastwood movies are really polar; half are invigorating and entertaining, like “Million Dollar Baby”, while some are boring and slow, such as “Hereafter” and (to some people, but not me) “J. Edgar”. “Jersey Boys” has the unique distinction of falling into both of those categories; some of the movie is interesting and well-paced, while other parts are slow and suffer from tone identity crisis.
“Jersey Boys” is a tale of thirds. The first third of the film almost feels like “Goodfellas”, and I really was enjoying myself. The group was doing odd jobs around town, just trying to make a name for themselves. Then they form the band and the music is infectious and catchy (I’m still humming the songs). And then comes the film’s final stretch. It chooses to divert from following the band and instead focus in on Frankie Valli and his struggles at home, and the film slows down. Like kind of a lot.
John Lloyd Young won a Tony for his portrayal of Valli on stage and he does a good enough job in front of a camera, however he just doesn’t have the Hollywood acting chops to hold up an emotional scene. When on stage you have to speak with words more than body and facial expression, but a camera can catch everything and some of the faces he makes when the scene is supposed to be dramatic are almost awkward.
Christopher Walken is great doing his normal Christopher Walken thing however my favorite character in the film was Tommy DeVito (not the “Goodfellas” character), played by Vincent Piazza. He is a quick-talking conman who knows what to say to get what he wants, even if that means falling into debt with the wrong people. Piazza has some funny one-liners, and steals most every scene he is in.
One of the things I enjoyed about the film also was that the four main characters occasionally break the third wall and address the audience. Each one of the musicians gives exposition for a fourth of the film, just like how in the Broadway version each narrates a fourth of the play. I guess you could say they each have their own… season [looks around for high-five, puts head down]. Alright, moving on.
When “Jersey Boys” is good, it is very good and entertaining. However when it doesn’t work and hits a wall, especially in the final act, it is almost boring. It almost redeems itself with a well-done ending, however it then overstays its welcome and it just becomes a generic, feel-good wrap up.
Here’s what you get with “Jersey Boys”: the music is catchy, the set pieces are top-notch and there are a decent amount of laughs. I just wish the film was a bit shorter (clocks in at 134 minutes) and had better pacing near the end. But it’s an above average film and probably great for people of the Baby Boomer generation.
Critics Rating: 6/10