Published on June 20th, 2014 | by Ryan Guerra0
The stage production of Jersey Boys is a fantastic tale of the true American Dream. From rags to riches, we follow Frankie Valliand the 4 Seasons from singing under a lamppost on the streets to the rock and roll hall of fame. The show breaks the fourth wall right away as each member of the band tells the audience a part of the story from their prospective. The show’s “wise guy”style is fast paced and coupled with several songs from their catalog that you “know” but didn’t realize you knew. It’s a fantastic show and if you get a chance to see it, you should.
That being said I had high hopes for the film. Clint Eastwood had a proven track record as a director and they casted several actors who have played in the stage version of the show, including John Lloyd Young who played the original FrankieValli on Broadway.
Those hopes were quickly squashed as the film commits the major sin when a stage musical is brought to film. It forgets that the star of the film should be the Music. As a result we are givena slow and boring pacing that halfheartedly attempts to tell us the story form the band’s perspective, but fails to engage us to care. The film breaks the fourth walk but does so in a way that is not accepting but rather tries to be subtle. Because of this, the story is confusing as we are given some direct narration but not in a way that makes us understand who is telling us the story and why. It just jumps from place to place and when the narration is needed to truly explain the significance of a scene, none is to be found, which is frustrating.
After the first hour the film finally starts to pick up and we are actually given songs from the 4 season. We see the band’s rise to fame and stumbles along the way. This is the heart of the story and where the film does shine a bit. But even through this the film continues to have a slow pace as they do not move directly from song to song, but rather choose to focus on things outside the band. As a result, when there was supposed to be redemption with the biggest song of the group, we are not really given explanation as to how the song that almost never saw the light of day, sold three million records and was their savior.
The film closes with a big song and dance number that is a showstopper akin to other movie musicals like Grease. It’s a shame more of the film did not take this traditional musical approach. It mostly likely would have been a better film.
2 out of 5 stars