Friday, June 20, 2014

Jersey Boys Movie Review

John Lloyd Young stars in Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys

Oh, What a Night

'Follow me boys. Destiny awaits.' Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons come to life on the big screen in Clint Eastwood's musical biopic Jersey Boys, a film that's sure to please fans of the Tony Award-winning musical, while at the same time entertaining "the rest of us." Include me in the latter group, as I came in with relatively low expectations: After all, who knew Dirty Harry could handle Broadway? To his credit, Eastwood creates a guy-friendly environment that makes all that singing & dancing seem (at least on the surface) cool. It's not all perfect, mind you: Jersey Boys bogs down in the final 30 minutes or so, but not enough to undo the film's many positives.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Clint Eastwood's big screen version of the Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of the four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic '60s rock group The Four Seasons. Their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the hit songs that influenced a generation, and are now being embraced by a new generation of fans through the stage musical.

What’s Best: Eastwood creates a GoodFellas-like atmosphere early on, even managing to incorporate a young Joe Pesci into the mix (minus the trigger finger.) John Llyod Young is sensational as lead singer extraordinaire Frankie Valli, totally nailing down the look and actions of a 16-year-old "phenom in waiting," belying his actual age (38) and slowly transforming into a bonafide, seasoned star before our very eyes.

Actors take turns talking to the camera; but none come close to matching the sheer ferocity of Boardwalk Empire's Vincent Piazza as band leader/wiseguy Tommy DeVito. His character is by far, the most engaging and interesting. In fact, without him... Jersey Boys is a completely different (and less enjoyable) film. Christopher Walken is Christopher Walken, albeit a more subdued version than we're used to seeing. He's a bit "too good to be true," in this one; but wins the day when he warns Tommy, 'Hey you. Stay out of my bathroom,' after learning that Tommy has a history of peeing in the sink.

Last but not least, I'd be remiss without singling out Stephen Dorff-lookalike Mike Doyle, who plays the Hell out of record producer Bob Crewe. If Tommy is the movie's most interesting player, Crewe is easily its most colorful.

What’s Not: I'm sure even Frankie Valli will agree... he's not the best looking guy in the world; but Young starts to resemble Eddie Munster as an aging Valli takes center stage near the end of the film. When the group parts ways after a tense confrontation at the house of Gyp DeCarlo (Walken) Jersey Boys becomes hard to watch. Suddenly, nobody's singing; and we're left with Frankie trying to cope with a troublesome teenage daughter, while arguing with his estranged wife (Renée Marino.) Yawn.

Best Line: Marino makes the most of her big screen debut, dispensing heady advice to Frankie on their first date, 'Y is a bullshit letter (in regards to Frankie spelling his last name with a consonant.) You're Italian: You have to end in a vowel.' Meanwhile, the über talented Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) overstates the obvious when he exclaims, 'You were right. It is more fun with another person!' after celebrating Christmas "in style." Wink.

Overall: You have to hand it to Eastwood: He made the unbearable more than bearable... He made it fun to watch. Jersey Boys is a joy to behold for the first hour and an half, before veering off course for a spell. All the hit songs are there... Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like a Man, etc., and best of all - a stirring solo by Young of Can't Take My Eyes Off You in the closing minutes, that's sure to send chills down your spine. It has its' flaws (most noticeably, a lack of emotion) but it does what it's supposed to, and it does it well.

Grade: B