Jersey Boys Blu-ray Review
You might be familiar with the Broadway musical version of JERSEY BOYS and you might be going into Clint Eastwood’s film thinking it was going to be more of the same. But JERSEY BOYS isn’t actually a musical, it’s really more of a music bio in the same vein as WALK THE LINE, RAY or others that we’ve seen in the past ten years. That key distinction is important because the film is based on the musical of the same name and had they stuck with the musical motif, the film might have worked better. As it is, it’s a movie that doesn’t always work, but its shortcomings are forgiven because of the great music.
The story follows the rise and eventual breakup of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Like all music bios, the four guys from Jersey start off rough, then skyrocket to fame, then get pulled apart by infighting and egos. But don’t expect to see anyone in the Four Seasons passed out in a corner from a heroin overdose. Instead, director Clint Eastwood keeps the film surprisingly lighthearted, only barely touching on Tommy’s gambling addiction or Frankie’s marital problems. The entire group has mob ties, but their only real connection to the mob is through Gyp, played by Christopher Walken. Walken plays Gyp almost as the film’s comedic relief and is the source of much of the humor. The point is that there’s no real danger to the group and all of the things that might have caused us to sympathize with them (addiction, mob ties, infidelity, etc.) are glossed over in favor of getting to the next concert performance.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since Eastwood made the audience sit in eager anticipation for an hour before getting to the first recognizable song. But after that hour, Eastwood jammed all 9 of their most popular songs in rapid fire succession, making the second half of the movie very entertaining, even if the direction of the film started to derail. Tommy (played very well by Vincent Piazza from ‘Boardwalk Empire’) was the only “meaty” character as his inability to leave his Jersey mob life and his presumed gambling addiction ended up tearing the group apart. However, that posed a problem for the filmmakers because no one knows who Tommy DeVito is, but everyone knows who Frankie Valli is. But aside from his infidelity, Frankie Valli was a pretty normal guy that just happened to have an amazing voice.
When Eastwood did try to focus on some of the more “juicy” events of the group, it didn’t really work. Valli lost a daughter later on in the film, but since they spent less than five minutes establishing that relationship, the scene felt empty and almost pointless. The non-musical scene that worked the best was when the group met at Gyp’s house to discuss Tommy’s mob debt. That’s the catalyst that eventually broke the group up and it was a nice scene that was done well. Eastwood did a great job of capturing the innocent side of the 60’s, even if the audience didn’t always buy into the wholesomeness of the story he was telling.
JERSEY BOYS is a fun movie, but it’s so much less than what it could have been. The point of the film is the fun music and the music takes center stage for about an hour. Unfortunately, the movie is two hours and fifteen minutes long, meaning you have to suck it up for an hour and fifteen minutes to get to what you want. Clint Eastwood seemed out of his element with JERSEY BOYS and never really connected to their story or know how to put it on film. I know that’s sacrilege to say about an American icon, but it’s still true. Still, even with all of the film’s shortcomings, you can’t complain as the group is belting out ‘Walk Like a Man’ and your head is nodding along to the beat.
Video: I wasn’t impressed with the video quality for JERSEY BOYS. The video seemed more bland and the colors were more saturated than what we’re used to with the best Blu-ray releases.
Audio: The audio was fine.
From Broadway To the Big Screen: This glosses over some of the issues everyone went through bringing the musical to theaters, including the casting process and getting Eastwood to direct.
Too Good To Be True: This takes a look at some of the music in the film and the relationships between the Four Seasons.
O What A Night To Remember: This takes a look back at the film’s premiere.