Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Movie Review: Jersey Boys

Filed under: Film and Entertainment,Movie and Entertainment,Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:24


The film adaptation of the smash Broadway hit Jersey Boys, based on the rise of the 1950’s music group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, was released on Friday.  Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film gets the opportunity to explore areas that get overlooked in its stage version; but it loses some of the emotional pull the stage show provides so amazingly well. When the film works, it works really well. The acting is superb. John Lloyd Young, who won the Tony Award for his origination of the role of Frankie Valli on Broadway, delivers a commanding performance and seems to have been born to play the iconic singer. Vincent Piazza, who most recently played the recurring role of Lucky Luciano on HBO’s hit series Boardwalk Empire, plays the sleazy money embezzler TonyDeVito, who although proves he is a back-stabbing friend of low morals, also plays the lovability of the character well when it’s called for. The other members of The Four Seasons, Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) and Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) support their scenes well. The overall cast, punctuated by Christopher Walken as the group’s mafia-associated ally Gyp DeCarlo and Mike Doyle as their flamboyant and over-the-top producer Bob Crewe, is excellent. But for the wonderful performances the movie gives us, unfortunately, there are critical areas where the film falls short. One of my biggest complaints about the film is its cinematography. Simply put, it’s just not good. Eastwood should’ve paid a lot more attention to how some of the scenes were executed.

One scene towards the middle of the film shows The Four Seasons riding in two sets of automobiles as they transverse the country on tour. The scenes are so obviously shot on a green screen, it is embarrassing. The music also has some problems. While most of the songs sound great, obvious lip-synching during live performances threatens the authenticity of the scenes. And while the struggle between Crewe, Gaudio, and Valli’s record label tyrant to buy into his different sounding single “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is effectively depicted, when the song is finally performed, Eastwood allows the brass section to completely overpower their recurring interlude, making the tune shrill. This is done to emphasize a point in the plot about Valli’s dream to have a horn line in one of his songs. But Eastwood allowed the song to be ruined in the process. The tragedy that occurs in Valli’s life, his failed marriage, and inability to secure intimacy with a partner is expanded upon in the movie nicely. But the ending of the movie, which actually appears to have been inspired by the post-curtain performance given by the cast of the stage show, comes off as ridiculous, silly, and completely inappropriate.  If this review is starting to sound like a roller coaster going up and down, that’s because the quality of the movie mimics that very motion. There are scenes in Jersey Boys that are unbelievably effective and moving. But unfortunately, those moments are not sustained throughout; and too many bad directing errors coupled with horrific cinematography dooms the film to the doldrums of mediocrity that recent Broadway musical-turned motion picture productions (eg. Les Miserables) have been able to avoid quite successfully. Jersey Boys, released by Warner Brothers Pictures, is rated R for explicit language throughout.

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