Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Cast: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken, Steve Schirripa and Lacey Hannan
Studio: Warner Brothers
“Jersey Boys” is everything that works about Broadway adaptations. Film doesn’t allow for the instant hoofing and gaudiness that comes from stage productions playing to the back of the auditorium. Eastwood chooses naturalistic recordings and stage performances that feel somewhere between “Pennies from Heaven” and “Glee”. It’s no wonder that Christopher Walken was chosen to transition the Broadway cast to the big screen as a veteran from a prior generation. Walken even gets to shine a little bit with that performer swagger. Hell, I hope that Walken gets an Oscar nomination for this film.
Marshall Brickman’s past scripting influence shines over the translation to film and it helps to make the bigger numbers seem far more passable for casual fans. Some might find the characters talking directly to the audience to be a little blech. But, it works in a way that you’re getting to see a bunch of kids from Jersey process fame in a pre Internet era. If you’re wanting an aggressive take on the dark side of the Music Industry, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. If you’re wanting the wildly successful stage show, then you’re not getting that either. What is presented is an interesting compromise that serves as Eastwood filtering Valli’s memories of hitting the big time.
Ultimately, it’s all about the music. What would a Jukebox Musical be without an attempt to shove a library of songs down your throat? John Lloyd Young has proven time and time again that he can hang with Frankie Valli’s original vocals. That will be enough to get in the older Baby Boomer crowd, but what about that crossover audience? Will “Jersey Boys” win over a younger generation? That’s the trick with music. It’s all aesthetic with the occasional dig into deeper meaning. The story’s simple and the appeal is there. However, it might play too far out of the youngsters’ comfort zone.
RELEASE DATE: 06/20/2014