Clint Eastwood recently confessed to Vanity Fair that rock ‘n’ roll was “never his thing” but he did say that he was a passionate Four Seasons fan and that their music was “a cut above.” The Hollywood legend’s adoration for the iconic musical group shines through in his latest film, Jersey Boys.
Like many other musical theatre fans I was thrilled when I heard of the movie adaptation of the Tony Award winning musical but, was leery when I heard of Eastwood’s involvement. While Clint Eastwood has never disappointed me in the past, I did find it a strange mix. As a director, Eastwood is usually fairly dark and gritty in terms of style and while the stage version of Jersey Boys is far from squeaky clean (there is harsh language throughout) I had a hard time believing that Eastwood could do the musical – which is in it’s ninth year on Broadway – justice. I was happily proven wrong.
The film tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. From their humble beginnings in suburban New Jersey, to their successful transition into a music sensation to their induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame; the film serves a biopic of the band’s career without seeming like an ABC-Made-for-TV-movie. Like its theatrical counterpart, Jersey Boys is split into four segments, each segment being narrated by a different member of the band. This successfully allows viewers to learn the full story behind the band’s hit songs such as “Sherry” and “Who Loves You.”
Jersey Boys is wonderful in the sense that despite it’s nearly two and a half hour run time it refrains from seeming overly melodramatic and slow-paced. Instead the film is witty, authentic, and entertaining. Though classified as a musical film I would actually consider it a film that happens to contain musical performances. No random song and dance moments here folks.
Unlike former Broadway-to-screen musical adaptations such as Les Mis, Mamma Mia!, and Hairspray, Jersey Boys boasts very few high-profile stars. The film’s leading man, John Lloyd Young, is a seasoned theatre veteran who reprises his former Broadway role as Frankie Valli. Erich Bergen and Michael Lomenda also reprise their former theatrical roles as Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio. Boardwalk Empire’s Vincent Piazza stars as Tommy Devito, the band’s founder. Christopher Walken also entertains audiences with his comedic yet genuine performance as Jersey mobster, Gyp DeCarlo. The film’s four lead actors all seem comfortable in their roles, as they should be, three of them are simply reprising roles they once performed on stage. As a viewer, one can tell that these men were cast simply based on talent and not their box office appeal and while that may sound harsh, it’s actually quite refreshing.
Bottom Line: Jersey Boys is a beautiful screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. It manages to maintain authenticity without functioning as a carbon copy of the stage show. Sadly, I do fear that due to the lack of Hollywood movie stars the film may falter at the box office. Regardless Eastwood’s film is perfect for Frankie Valli and musical theatre fans alike and is definitely worth watching-even if it means humming “Walk Like A Man” to yourself for days after you leave the theatre!
Mallory Delchamp is a writer, model, and performer living in Manhattan. You can routinely read her film and music reviews here on Pop-Break and you can also check out her work on zumic.com and nytheatreguide.com. A social media and pop culture enthusiast, Mallory also enjoys musical theatre, superhero films, and drinking coffee. You can visit Mallory at her website, www.mallorydelchamp.com