Friday Features: 'Jersey Boys' review

Friday Features: 'Jersey Boys' review

Credit: Fandango.com

Friday Features: 'Jersey Boys' review

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by HAYDEN PITTMAN

WFAA Special Contributor

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Directed by Clint Eastwood and based on the award-winning stage musical, "Jersey Boys" is an entertaining and humorous film that tells the story of the 1960s rock group "The Four Seasons."

Using multiple music performances that feature popular hits from the group along with witty, comical dialogue and amusing actors like Christopher Walken, "Jersey Boys" presents a musical-like documentary format that dramatizes the formation, success, and breakup of the group made up of Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio, and Nick Massi.

Whether on stage or on the big screen, this story explains how a group of four boys from New Jersey eventually come together to form “The Four Seasons” and create popular hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry," “Sherry," “Walk Like a Man” and more.

Similar to the stage presentation, the film features the group collaborating on song ideas and performing most of their popular hits, while also allowing each member of the band to speak directly to the audience, giving their perspective and more background information. 

"Jersey Boys" also stars John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda, and many others.

The film begins with one of first members of the group, Tommy DeVito (Piazza), narrating of sorts and explaining how everything got started. As a younger man, DeVito discovered and mentored Frankie Castelluccio, who later changed his last name to Valli for performing purposes. Having one of the more unique and better voices of the group, Frankie quickly moves his way up the ladder and earns a spot in one of Tommy’s bands, alongside him and Nick Massi. After coming across a talented writer/musician/singer, Bob Gaudio, the group goes through several names before settling on “The Four Seasons."

Although very talented and continuing to perform in front of satisfied crowds, the group has more than enough trouble to deal with as they have a hard time finding work, signing with a music label, recording hit tracks, and constantly arguing amongst each other. On top of that, Tommy, Nick, and Frankie’s early past with stealing and dealing with stolen goods comes back to haunt them.

Soon enough, the group is able to get a taste of success, but even with all of the past chaos, Tommy proceeds to borrow more and more money for different reasons and eventually puts the band in huge financial trouble -- which ultimately leads to their breakup.

One of the best parts of this film is the constant humor and witty banter between characters. Constantly messing with each other, calling out one another on their faults, making arrogant, rude comments towards other people, and reacting to the situations they are put in, The main characters of the movie are quite amusing at times.

An added bonus is the appearance of Christopher Walken, who plays some sort of mob boss/mentor/rich hotshot, who acts as a fixer or father figure to the group and is a continuous joy to watch. Another positive aspect is that this group of actors makes the music sound pretty close to the original songs. Viewers will not grow tired of the music presentations throughout. 

"Jersey Boys" has its major ups and downs with great moments, low points, and that in between filler stuff that does grow old. Along with the great sounding music, there are plenty of exciting times to watch as the film covers a large span of time that clearly shows changes in lifestyle, hairstyles, clothes, group or solo acts, etc.

There are times with deeper, emotional, sometimes depressing content, harsh arguments between group members, family and financial problems, and more. The film drags on a bit long for some but has important parts to cover, elaborates on various aspects of the group or individual member’s lives. It overall tells the beginning, middle, and end of their long history. 

"Jersey Boys" definitely targets a specific generation of baby boomers and fans of this rock group or genre/era of music, but it can be enjoyable for just about anyone. With all of the special effect-driven, over-the-top, and inappropriate cinematic presentations out there, it’s refreshing to find a film that is reminiscent of an old classic movie that relies on a decent story, interesting characters, and laughable, smart dialogue instead of exploiting many of the evils that are out there in the world.

That being said, there is a bit of vulgar language, alcohol use, and insinuation of drugs present in the film. The characters make bad choices and at the end of the day are not very nice people, and we see the consequences of this on screen.

Check out the rock era biopic "Jersey Boys," in theaters this weekend. 

Rated 3 out of 5 stars. 

‘Jersey Boys’ is rated R for language throughout. Running time is 2 hours and 14 minutes.


Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. For more of his reviews on WFAA, click here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and when not writing reviews or covering an event, he works in film production. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at haydenp@youplusmedia.com or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt. 

 

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