Jersey Boys

  • Jersey BoysAs it does not have an emotional core, Jersey Boys fails to resonate, even if it still entertains.
  • Chief amongst its missteps is the consistent decision to bypass characterization in favor of lengthy (and frequent) musical numbers. Consider Frankie Valli’s (John Lloyd Young, superb) family; until they are all teenagers, Jersey Boys does not bother to show how many children the singer has. Even when we see them, we still don’t know how old they are, or whether or not there are more of them.
  • Therein is why every scene with Francine (Freya Tingley at the child’s oldest iteration) fails. We don’t know the character, and are unconvinced that Frankie cares all that much about her, which means the would be emotion never sparks. Instead the family drama rapidly becomes boring melodrama.
  • The trend continues, especially with female characters. None of them have personality; in fact, their names don’t even register.
  • Many of the male characters are poorly developed, as well. Consider Bob Crewe (Mike Doyle), who is frustratingly stereotypical, and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda), whose pent up frustration might have made for gripping conflict, but instead becomes petulant whining.
  • The film often suffers when actors break the fourth wall to narrate the story, partially because such narration is abandoned for long stretches, partially because there is little cohesive reason narrators change when they do, and mostly because it tells us what the movie could show without the gimmick.
  • Yet Jersey Boys is still entertaining enough.
  • Though they contribute to the picture’s emotional void, the musical numbers are fun to watch.
  • The actors are very good. Special mention to Young and Vincent Piazza (Tommy De Vito).
  • Director Clint Eastwood and writer Marshall Brickman’s non-linear structure proves effective.
  • There is enough humor mixed into the plot.
  • A during end-credit dance number is favorably reminiscent of 1950s and ’60s musical films.
  • And so forth.
  • Jersey Boys has enough merits to make it watchable, just not enough to make us care all that much about it.
  • Final Grade: C-

16 thoughts on “Jersey Boys

  1. I ♥ Clint so I was hoping this would be a trek to the theater. As it is, I suspect I’ll rent it on a November night when it’s cold and bleak and be cheered by the songs while not expecting much else. Good review, Josh.

    • I think one of the issues is that it, apparently, tries to stay a touch too close to the show, without considering the additional requirements of this medium. A film lite on character needs more …. something …. than this has.

  2. Yeah this sounds like yet another resounding disappointment from Clint Eastwood. *Scratches head for a second.*

    I’m not sure how this keeps happening with a man as legendary as Eastwood. Perhaps his directorial chops just aren’t up to par. Though, he is responsible for Gran Torino, which I loved.

    • Yeah. And Unforgiven (1992), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Mystic River (2003), A Perfect World (1993), and a slew of others. His recent offerings have been less awesome, but he has plenty of gems to his directorial name.

      I don’t know what it is, but this one isn’t up to his frequent quality.

      • That is very true. Couldn’t even name those titles, haha shows the depth of my fandom for Eastwood. Mystic River I do still wanna see. And see rather badly.

      • It’s good, probably my favorite from him. My second favorite is Perfect World, I think. Costner is terrific in it. (Though that particular film, as I recall, is borderline didactic against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Haven’t seen it since it’s release, in the early ’90s, so I’m working solely on long term memory.)

  3. You know…I actually thought the trailers to this one were terrific. The reviews began to say otherwise and the cliche elements sound tough to get over. Mostly if you say it is not accompanied by any emotional resonance. Might skip this one entirely….

    Sure, it may have moments of fun but I’m not exactly into musicals anyways haha.

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