Necessary Perspective

Jersey Boys (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
3 Out Of 5 Stars
June 20, 2014

GET TO THE POINT BEN!

If we remove this from the theatrical circuit and place it into the cable one, now we’re putting things into perspective.

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New Jersey, 1951, classic east cost Italian vibe within the neighborhoods.  Tommy DevVito (Vincent Piazza) our narrator takes us into the world of musical struggles, filled with narration, cigarettes, heartache, rotating doors to the prison, and lots of passion.  This later became followed with more narration from different characters, marriages and families to take care of, getting involved with the mob and working off potentially fatal debts, breakups, and a lot more narration from other characters we haven’t heard from. 

I liked this various, narrative storytelling aspect in theory, as it’s clearly seen that this is supposed to be Frankie Valli’s (John Lloyd Young) story.  It was, but I definitely connected more with Tommy than Frankie as I caught some “mistakes” with some of the choices of Lloyd’s performance, passable to a lot, failing to me a fellow actor.  Tommy was the manager of the group of singers he formed including Frankie who was like family.  “The Four Seasons” become a musical hit in Clint Eastwood’s take on the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys.

I’ve heard a couple of different times that Eastwood should slow down so we get something amazing instead of putting out films just because you have the ability to pump them out quickly.  When I finished Jersey Boys I couldn’t help but think this.  I should want to go experience the Broadway sensation for the first time now having seen the film.  This makes me want to stay away from the material completely. 

It wasn’t the fact that there were no big name actors that we follow primarily.  Christopher Walken served his role quite well.  I really quite enjoyed and was intrigued with Tommy’s “tough guy” nature.   The classic Italian family culture was well captured with the dialect.  The spirit of the older music scene of the 50’s and 60’s was definitely captured, as we the era.  So what could it be?  What disconnected me from this story?  Yeah this story … story, it should always be about the story.

The changes in narration probably had something to do with this.  But really, me not caring as much as I probably should when the group gets in deep with the mob and Frankie has to take whatever gigs he can to pay off the debt, is a problem.  Not feeling fulfilled when it’s clear that all is lost and I should be feeling “oh man, how will our heroes get out of this?!” is a problem.  Decent performances and not spectacular ones (with the one exception of Piazza) is a problem. 

Too many problems to have an amazing experience.  On the surface everything looks okay.  “A nice arthouse experience to check out over the summer and to take a break from the all the Blockbusters and have a little variety in your movie selections this summer.  Maybe Eastwood will go for an Oscar with this one, he almost always does.  Hmm, maybe I’ll enjoy myself with this one?” 

Leaving the theater I said this was a nicely done TV movie.  That’s the medium this story would do the best within as the theatrical film circuit would be too disappointing for exhibitors and distributors; but a nice night in on the couch with HBO?

Now we’ve put things into perspective.

Jersey Boys
Musical, 134 Minutes, R
Musical Book & Screenplay by: Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice
Screenplay by: Marshall Brickma
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Vincent Piazza, John Lloyd Young, & Christopher Walken 

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