JERSEY BOYS, 2014, is a new biography/drama/musical, the history of four working class young men from New Jersey who somehow came together to form the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons. It is based on the long-running, massively popular Broadway musical of the same name. As a film, it was directed by the iconic actor/macho movie star/director Clint Eastwood and written by Marshall Brickman. According to Broadway.com, as quoted at IMDb, "Jersey Boys is a musical biography of the Four Seasons-the rise, the tough times and personal clashes, and the ultimate triumph of a group of friends whose music became symbolic of a generation. Far from a mere tribute concert (though it does include numbers from the popular Four Seasons songbook), Jersey Boys gets to the heart of the relationships at the center of the group-with a special focus on front man Frankie Valli, the small kid with the big falsetto. In addition to following the quartet's coming of age as performers, the core of the show is how an allegiance to a code of honor learned in the streets of their native New Jersey got them through a multitude of challenges: gambling debts, Mafia threats and family disasters. Jersey Boys is a glimpse at the people behind a sound that has managed to endure for over four decades in the hearts of the public."
Many reviewers have noted that director Eastwood was shrewd enough to cast as his principals mainly young men who have worked in the theatrical production. His stars include Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito, John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, Johnny Cannizzaro as Nick DeVito and Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi. I'd never seen any of them before, as unfortunately, I left New York and its Broadway some years ago. And, in fact, I knew hardly any of the actors up on the screen, just Steve Schirripa, (THE SOPRANOS), as Vito; noted dancer Christopher Walken, (HAIRSPRAY), as Gyp DeCarlo, good-hearted mobster, and Lou Volpe, frequently cast as an Italian father, as Frankie's father. But I rather liked the fact that I was seeing most of these actors for the first time; it added to the movie's credibility for me. The qualifications of director Eastwood, who by now is possibly as well-known as a director,(INVICTUS, GRAN TORINO, MILLION DOLLAR BABY); as an actor, (BLOODWORK, UNFORGIVEN) have been questioned by some reviewers I have read elsewhere who doubt his ability to handle musical material. Of course, other reviewers have replied that, in his career he has directed PLAY MISTY FOR ME, and BIRD, which was about jazzman Charlie Parker, both with musical themes. Though never anything about rock and roll and it's possible he's not the best possible director for this material. Many reviewers have also complained that the film is predictable, and utilizes every cliché in the book about its genre. Guess this is more or less true; but whether it's to be a biopic about the Beatles or the Four Seasons it seems there are some constants, Stations of the Cross if you will. Scuffling working class lads, who may have a few brushes with the law, or with the local mobsters. Validation on the Ed Sullivan show. The touring life, partying, girls, drugs, quarreling and dissolution of the group. Stations of the Cross. Hard to avoid. Another reviewer complained that Christopher Walken, who began in show business as a dancer, wasn't in the big final dance scene. But he was, saw him with my own eyes. Perhaps not as front and center as he deserved to be, but hey...
Well, as urbanites, in this house, we love a floating falsetto lead: Frankie Lyman of the Teenagers, Smokey Robinson, Aaron Neville, Frankie Valli. I was lucky enough to see Frankie Valli once, live at New York's Radio City Music Hall, and I've never forgotten it. My husband and I have been recommended many times to see "Jerseys Boys" on Broadway. Haven't been able to manage it, doubt we ever will, though I believe it's still actually playing. Too bad. So we were eager to see the movie. And we really liked it. Well, it's our music; we know the melodies and words in our red blood cells. Similarly, you know whether it'll be your thing.
Me, I've been humming and singing those songs all week, ever since seeing the picture. Maybe I'll declare myself the fifth Season?