Film Review: Jersey Boys

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The new film Jersey Boys is a theatrical version of the smash Broadway musical of the same name. The movie stars John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza and screen icon Christopher Walken. Boys is directed by film legend Clint Eastwood.

The period drama focuses on how the legendary musical group The Four Seasons came to be. The foursome lead by Frankie Valli had a successful career despite all of the members having their fair share of life obstacles to overcome. The Four Seasons went through a lot before reaching prominence and their mega success brought a whole new set of issues for the group to deal with.

Jersey Boys inserts the music of The Four Seasons into the narrative naturally and the legendary songs are the highlight of the film. When the music is not in the spotlight, the picture often becomes pedestrian. The performances range from quite good to quite mediocre in Boys. Actor Vincent Piazza stands out as the flawed hustler member of The Four Seasons, Tommy DeVito. Christopher Walken provides his usual formidable screen presence and offers the film a nice foundation—especially considering much of the cast is rather inexperienced.

John Lloyd Young portrays Frankie Valli in the film and he also played Valli on Broadway. He does a fabulous job when it comes to the musical numbers. When Young is faced with the more dramatic moments of Valli’s life his performance is patchy at best. The actor does not quite seem up to the challenge of portraying the moral complexities of the singer in a film production. Eastwood’s direction is at times uneven, which is quite surprising given his impressive directing resume. The film’s tone bounces back and forth between comedy and drama. Some of the comical moments work well, but often the dramatic sections come off as forced and in some circumstances outright cheesy.

Jersey Boys is at its best when it’s lighthearted and focusing on the legendary music of The Four Seasons. When it delves into the private life of the pop group it becomes disappointingly routine. Overall Jersey Boys is a more than watchable biopic, but it’s not the rousing hit that you would hope for based on the source material and the talent behind the camera.

Grade: C+

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