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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Movie Review - Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys (2014)
Starring John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, MIchael Lomenda, and Christopher Walken
Directed by Clint Eastwood

I grew up listening to the fun 60s pop music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  The story of how the group formed, became popular, and contentiously began to fall apart is told in director Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys, an adaptation of the long-running Broadway smash musical.  I've seen the show in New York City and I found it disappointing particularly considering the fantastic songs at the musical's disposal, so I went into the film thinking that it didn't need to do much in order to improve things.

Unfortunately, Eastwood has crafted a lifeless flick without any modicum of fun or excitement.  Bathed in Eastwood's typical muted brownish color palette, the film lacks energy leading to a boring affair.  (Quite honestly, it only comes alive during the film's end credits as a choreographed routine takes place on an obvious soundstage...and even that ends rather awkwardly and uncomfortably with some weird directorial shots.)   It certainly doesn't help that the characters themselves -- however true to life they really are -- are stereotypical Italian American clichés.  On stage, I didn't care for these characterizations either, but at least the broadness of them works a little better where there is a bit more distance between the audience and the actors.  When watching a film, however, we're invited to a more intimate setting and the silly stereotypes are laughable.  John Lloyd Young reprises his Tony-winning role as Frankie Valli, but he lacks the charisma that I assume was apparent on stage to garner him that award.  His Valli is rather emotionless and doesn't carry any gravitas in scenes where emotions are necessary.

Although the Four Seasons' popular tunes don't even make an appearance until the 56-minute mark (a huge detriment here that bogs down the film's opening hour to a near glacial pace), once they arrive, they are presented in a better manner than in the Broadway show -- the film's one check in the plus column.  Here, they seem a little less shoehorned in and take place in more natural settings.  (It should be noted that if anyone is wary of watching a "movie musical," all the songs in this film are set either on stage or in a recording studio or something of that ilk.  The characters never break out into song just because they feel the need to do so.)  That isn't nearly enough to save this flick from disaster, however.  Eastwood is not someone I admire as a director in the slightest and this out-of-the-ordinary departure for him into the realm of movie musicals further exemplifies his stodgy, static, and quite frankly boring style of filmmaking.

The RyMickey Rating:  D+

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