Clint Eastwood delivers a solidly entertaining adaptation of the hit Broadway and West End jukebox show about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Jersey Boys, but his direction is too safe and square to turn this musical biopic into a movie classic.
Given the group’s origins on the mean streets of 1950s New Jersey, where they rubbed shoulders with Mafia wise guys (personified here by Christopher Walken’s surprisingly genial local mob boss), it’s tempting to imagine what flamboyant pizzazz Martin Scorsese might have given the subject.
Eastwood, though, steers a course down the middle of the road as his film follows apprentice barber Frankie (John Lloyd Young, repeating his stage role) and friends Tommy (Vincent Piazza) and Nick (Michael Lomeda) as they graduate from small-time crime to showbiz success after being hooked up with talented young songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) by would-be talent scout Joey Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci).
And he does a decent job of charting the band’s subsequent ups and downs, ticking off their biggest hits, such as ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, and some of their personal offstage lows. But the spark that would set the film on fire is missing.
Not that Eastwood’s effort is lacking in style. He gives the nostalgic early scenes an desaturated, almost sepia tone and repeats the stage show’s snappy direct-to-audience narration, but it’s not until the closing credits that he really kicks loose, delivering a rousing dancing-in-the-streets version of ‘Oh What a Night!’ that provides some of the fizz the story and songs really deserve.
Certificate 15. Runtime 134 mins. Director Clint Eastwood.
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