Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Film Review: Jersey Boys

This review will be short, unlike the movie I am reviewing.

Jersey Boys is a "musical" about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  It is not a musical in the traditional sense of characters breaking into spontaneous song.  This can be done well, as in the movies Once and Begin Again (to be reviewed later).  And to be sure, the music is the best part of this movie.  But the film is long, vulgar, and boring.

The story starts with Tommy Devito (Vincent Piazza) narrating about life in "the neighborhood" in '50's Jersey.  He works for mob boss Gyp Decarlo (Christopher Walken) and is best friends with Frankie (John Lloyd Young).  Tommy is an amoral, two-bit nogoodnick who helps nurture the overly talented Frankie.  Later they meet songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) who is much more clean-cut and wants the group to be about the music.  Bob and Tommy have competing narrations.  Later the other member of the Four Seasons, Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) also chimes in as a moderating perspective.  Ostensibly, the story is about Frankie, but he gets no narration until a few lines at the very end.  The quartet navigate the trials and tribulations of rising to stardom and dealing with the excesses.

The movie is filled with problems.

1.  The characters are just plain unlikeable.  They feel like characters from The Sopranos, with all of their self-centered machismo.  Even Frankie, who is supposed to be the sweet innocent, is actually kind of scummy.  He marries early, but he simply takes it for granted that he should sleep with other women on the road.

2. The movie is too long.  At 134 minutes, it drags and drags.  This is a common problems in movie directed by Clint Eastwood.

3.  It is too episodic.  One of the main problems of biopics is that they tend to wander in the narrative.  It feels like we wander into vignettes about a person's life with no real sense of plot structure.

4.  The women are 1-dimensional.  I know that this is a common problem in film, but the women in the movie are flagrantly used as ornaments to the men in the story and serve no other function as to help shape the emotions of the men.  It is so blatant that it gets quite annoying.

The only saving grace of the movie is the music.  Those songs will be stuck in your head and you will remember with nostalgia how fun it is to listen to Frankie Valli's falsetto.

2 out of 5 stars

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