Jersey Boys (Clint Eastwood) - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
CLINT Eastwood may seem like an odd choice to direct a musical based on the story of iconic ’60s band The Four Seasons but his career has been a lot more musical than some would initially imagine.
A lifelong jazz fan, Eastwood also regularly contributes to the scores of his own movies, has starred (and sung) in the musical Paint Your Wagon and played an ageing country & western singer in Honky Tonk Man.
Hence, Jersey Boys isn’t such a stretch and, in film form, allows Eastwood to put his own stamp on things. For while there are musical numbers, as expected, there’s also a darker, more melancholy undertow running belatedly through proceedings as the effects of success (pressure, jealousy, fame, etc) take their toll.
At its heart, though, Jersey Boys is also a fairly formulaic biopic that chronicles four boys from the wrong side of the tracks – Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) – as they become The Four Seasons, one of the biggest and most influential groups of all time (thanks to hits such as Walk Like A Man, Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry).
Early on, Eastwood imbues his film with a great sense of fun as the boys juggle law-breaking exploits with their first steps into the music business, displaying all the naive bravado of youth. The director even drops in a crafty cameo of himself that suggests he is having fun with the material and the period.
His young and largely unknown cast also do well, with Piazza’s DeVito particularly impressive along with Young’s Valli and Bergen’s Gaudio. Christopher Walken, as an ageing Mob boss and patriarchal figure, also delights whenever on-screen.
Unfortunately, Eastwood can’t quite maintain the film’s momentum and the latter part of the film feels a little more episodic and leisurely paced, even though the songs are well realised and continue to offer highlights.
Overall, Jersey Boys succeeds as a solid if unspectacular biopic that arguably exhibits a lot more emotional depth and complexity than it’s theatrical counterpart. It’s a consistently engaging film but one that plays best to existing fans of The Four Seasons rather than inspiring a new generation.
Running time: 134mins
UK Release Date: June 20, 2014