The “Man With No Name” has overseen the stage to screen transformation of JERSEY BOYS which took Broadway by storm almost 10 years ago. And Eastwood produced the project with the assistance of falsetto voiced Frankie Valli who takes executive producer credits here.
And no, I have not seen the popular play, so I can’t really draw any comparisons between the two. However I will say the film has the distinct feel of a play and breaks the so-called “fourth wall” throughout its two hour and 14 minute running time.
Breaking the fourth wall has members of the cast turning towards the camera and directly addressing the audience periodically.
It’s done quite effectively here and I’m told that the approach was also used in the stage production.
But unlike Mamma-Mia, Chicago or Les Miserables, Jersey Boys is NOT a musical. It’s the bio-drama of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons WITH music about the group’s beginnings on the mean streets of New Jersey as The Four Lovers.
It’s about the tough times, the perosional clashes and ultimate triumph of a group whose music became symbolic of a generation.
Unlike other groups of the 1960’s, The Four Seasons didn’t grace the covers of teen magazines, so it wasn’t until Jersey Boys hit Broadway that people discovered the REAL back story behind their music.
How a young Joe Pesci became a handler of sorts for the boys. Connecting them with an even younger Bob Gaudio who had written the hit song Short-Shorts for the Royal Teens.
And how a Jersey mob figure named Angelo ‘Gyp’ DeCarlo had become the boys godfather of sorts. He’s played by Christopher Walken who is the only real marquee name in this sometimes uneven film.
That’s because Eastwood chose his main players from among alumni of the stage production. The starring role of Frankie Valli being portrayed by John Lloyd Young who originated the role on Broadway and won a Tony Award for the performance.
Yeap, and it’s a quickie as Clint pops up amusingly on a………
Nope, I’m not going to spoil it for you. Let’s see if YOU can catch him.
All that plus a super 60’s songbook performed live by the actors. The soundtrack hits include Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man, Bye Bye Baby, Let’s Hang On, Can’t Take My Eyes Of You and, of course, Sherry.
Will younger moviegoers support this film? Probably not. And that’s too bad because if they did they’d probably enjoy it.
More likely the movie will probably struggle at the box office and would have been better off as a fall release. But what do I know…….
The R-rated, gritty, yet feel good story of JERSEY BOYS scoring a B-.
(Reviewed at Dickinson’s Palazzo Theatre, Overland Park)
JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES every Friday morning at 6:40 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. on NewsRadio KMBZ FM & AM.