Jersey Boys. Clint Eastwood’s take on the hit Broadway play by the same name. The story of Frankie Valli and the 1960s pop musical group, the Four Seasons, is a tale of East Coast Italians and Valli’s unique falsetto sound is almost incidental to the storyline. “Sherry”, “Who Loves You?” and “My Eyes Adored You” are must a few songs among the group’s string of mega major hits. Eastwood produced and directed the bio on Charlie Parker (“Bird”) so I was expecting and wanting more scenes like the film’s closing number and the group singing at night under a street light (at closing credits). Instead, Eastwood focused on how Valli escaped the neighborhood mafia allure.
The film has a slow start. The second half is much more entertaining. Whenever Christopher Walken as Gyp DeCarolo, the local mafia fixer, is on screen there’s positive energy. Not so with John Lloyd Young playing Valli. I understand he starred in the Broadway version, but on screen there’s something missing. His voice lacks that Valli magic. There are a few amusing scenes, particularly when a character named Joey appears. This is, to my surprise, the future Joe Pesci, played by Joseph Russo. Pesci and Valli were from the same neighborhood. There is also an excellent performance by Mike Doyle as music producer Bob Crewe. I also liked the Rawhide clip (ironic source cue used in the scene, remember Eastwood starred in this early TV series) that runs before the Bob Gaudio (Eric Bergin) character losses his virginity. But what doesn’t work are the drop-in scenes between Valli and his wife Mary (Renee Marino).
During the film’s 134 minutes, there is a lot to like if you’re a Four Seasons fan. But overall, it’s choppy at times, and it drags during the first half. It seems as if Eastwood could not decide what he wanted to do with the material: West Side Story or The Godfather.
Steven Guttman, Esq.