‘Jersey Boys’ is something that had a couple of amazing things going for it while in development. When I first heard that they were adapting this stage musical into a movie, I was insanely excited. The musical is one of my favorite shows of this modern era. I’ve seen it twice in Toronto and I love it. The musical got me hooked on Franki Valli, and I now listen to his music constantly.
The next thing that got me excited for this was Clint Eastwood directing. I love Clint Eastwood. He’s just plain awesome as both an actor, and a director, and has a lot of appreciation for everything in American culture, including music.
So ‘Jersey Boys’ had two of some of my favorite things going for it…and it was just alright.
Was it a bad movie? Absolutely not. But it wasn’t entirely great either. The thing I liked about the musical version was how upbeat the whole thing was. It was always energetic and moving, while certain drama aspects played in between and served as good down time between music numbers.
This film version however, was the complete opposite of that. It was very slow, and felt more depressing than energetic. The focus of the mob scenes were interesting, but I felt it was a little too much. The music numbers played as the filler, thus making this film more of a bio-pic than a movie-musical.
As far as the music went, this was one of the positives of the movie. It was great to see all of these great songs in the movie, but I just didn’t get super into it like I did with the musical version. I wanted more. However, they were performed with excellence by the actors, and it was the most entertaining aspect of the movie for me.
The acting was pretty solid, however, at times you could tell that the main characters were stage actors, and not film actors. They would sometimes over-do certain things, and that’s not always necessary in a movie. They’re trained to perform for a live audience so that people in the balcony can have a solid feel of what’s going on. There’s not always a need for over-exaggeration for a film. But that’s just a minor nitpick.
Without comparing to the stage musical too much, I will say that the film on its own is pretty cool. It feels like ‘That Thing You Do’ mixed with ‘Goodfellas’. Seems like a cool concept. But after awhile, the execution was odd, and formed a heavy imbalance of what the main plot was focusing on. Was it the music or the mob plot? It was hard to tell.
All in all though, it’s an entertaining movie. If you’ve seen the musical, it will be hard to not make comparisons. It’s definitely a lot slower and moody compared to the high level energy that the musical puts out. But to get the story of Franki Valli and The Four Seasons, this movie does a decent job of telling it. It’s interesting, and you will discover a lot of things that you probably didn’t know about.
‘Jersey Boys’ gets a C+. It makes for an interesting bio-pic, and has a lot of good things going for it. The music will keep you entertained, and the story will keep you interested enough to not turn it off, but it can get a little slow. It is very hard not to compare it to the far superior stage musical. At the end of the day, I think Clint Eastwood might not have been the man for the job to adapt this, as talented as he is. The movie is good, but could have been so much more.