Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Movie Review: Jersey Boys


I went with my mother to see the new film, Jersey Boys, based on the Broadway Musical by the same name. The story of Frankie Valli (with an "I") and the Four Seasons. I have yet to see the musical on Broadway, but I had a radio show on a campus public radio station for four years on which I featured a new Broadway musical every week. One of these weeks I did an entire show on Jersey Boys, for which I did a lot of research since I hadn't yet seen it in person, so I do consider myself familiar with the musical.

Let's begin with things I enjoyed about the movie.  At 2 hours and 14 minutes, it does fall a little short (approximates 15-45 minutes) of the time expected for a full-length show on Broadway, but I still felt that the abridgements made for the movie were minimal and didn't affect the story. The casting for the movie was absolutely fabulous. No "big movie names" were cast for any of the four leads. Frankie Valli was played by John Lloyd Young, who was the first man in the role on Broadway and received a Tony for Best Actor, as well as various other awards, for this role in 2006.  He was obviously the perfect choice for the part.  The other three members of the Four Seasons were played by Broadway actors, most of whom had played their respective part on an American tour of the show previously.  Essentially, the lead roles were familiar with their parts. Additionally, they all had the talent and the training for the part.

There were a few "big names" spotted throughout the film. However, for the most part, they have smaller roles. Christopher Walken has the biggest of these roles, playing the mentor for the boys. The man who owns the bowling alley has been seen in a few television shows. Mostly just very small cameo roles. Besides the director, Clint Eastwood, this movie is basically big name free, as I feel any Broadway musical-based movie should be. If it started on Broadway, it should be cast by people trained and familiar with that environment.

Now for the very few complaints I had for the movie.  We'll start with the smaller of the two. The song "Oh What a Night." It is common knowledge that this is Bob Gaudio's (the song write for the Four Seasons) story of losing his virginity.  However, this song wasn't played until the very end of the film, where Frankie finally finds fame again for one brief moment.  While it seems a pertinent moment, the fact that they included his first night in the movie (though not graphically) gave them the PERFECT opportunity to present this song in its inspirational moment!!

Secondly, in the musical's playbill (I'm not sure about on the stage) the four men each get to tell their part of the story. Each man represents a season (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer).  This gives meaning to their band name, The Four Seasons. However, there is so much more meaning in it. As they switch off who is telling the story, it represents a change of their life as a band.  In a sense, the career and livelihood of the band is seeing a change in the "seasons".  However, the movie COMPLETELY removed this idea.  Not even a quick word at the bottom of the screen that says "Winter" - nothing. I feel this fact adds an extra level to the story that you just don't get elsewhere.

However, the movie was AMAZING. I wish it was acceptable to dance in the aisles of a movie theater, because the music is great, of course. I mean, come on, it's Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons! And I bet you'll be surprised to some of the songs that are theirs.  Rated R probably because they drop the F-Bomb more than twice, but my conservative 60 year old mother was unphased by the swearing and truly enjoyed the film. Take your mom. Take a date. Don't take your young children. Enjoy!

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