Film Review: ‘Jersey Boys’ Can’t Escape Its Broadway Roots

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – Director Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys” suffers from the same inherent fundamental flaw in all of these so-called Jukebox Musicals – their stories are mere afterthoughts. You come for the songs, and suffer through the story. They have the narrative equivalent of chicken wire and chewing gum, patchwork filler to tie the songs together. Although not as insufferable as “Mamma Mia,” “Jersey Boys” story is still pretty thin gruel to make a movie out of – and that’s a shame because it certainly starts out promisingly enough. Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

The film begins as a sort of “Goodfellas” lite with mobbed up gofer Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza from “Boardwalk Empire”). He’s from the wrong side of the tracks in Jersey stuck running errands for local mob boss (Christopher Walken) while playing two bit gigs with his musical group. Piazza frequently breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the camera – like a young Robert De Niro – while relating the group’s early beginnings. Like everyone else he’s looking for a way out and he sees that in the young Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young in the role he originated on Broadway) and his unforgettable voice. That voice will be the group’s ticket to fame and fortune, but things don’t really take off until they add songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) to give the group the hits they need to climb up the charts. Gaudio comes up with hit after hit, while the film indulges in a few “how’d they come up with that?” musical biopic clichés.

Eastwood isn’t usually thought of as musical type- unless you count “Paint Your Wagon” and the two time Oscar winner would surely rather we just forget about that one. But he makes the film look glorious; infusing it with a real period style that seems stained in tobacco smoke. His eye for cinema shines brightest in a sequence at Manhattan’s famous Brill building. It’s a place where musical dreams are made. He treats it like an old Hollywood studio, where stars bump into each other in the halls and a hit happens behind every door.

“Jersey Boys” opens everywhere on June 20th. Featuring John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Vincent Piazza and Christopher Walken, Screenplay by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, from their musical book. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Spike Walter’s full review of “Jersey Boys”

Jersey Boys
In Studio: The Four Seasons Start Recording in ’Jersey Boys’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

StarContinue reading for Spike Walter’s full review of “Jersey Boys”

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