'Jersey Boys' Review Roundup: Clint Eastwood's Musical Adaptation Receives Mixed Notices
Jersey Boys, a recreation of the smash hit Broadway musical of the same name, recounts the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons during the late 50s and early 60s.
John Lloyd Young, who originated the role of Frankie Valli on Broadway, reprises the part on the big screen in Jersey Boys, dominating the vocals on the group’s timeless hits including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen and Micael Lomenda round out the Italian-American quartet that achieved international fame despite some trials and tribulations on the way from their Belleville, N.J. roots.
'Jersey Boys' Reviews
As a feature film, directed by Clint Eastwood, Jersey Boys seems to have largely underwhelmed critics – though it’s a general consensus that the soundtrack is enjoyable in any medium. Compared to other musical biopics like Ray or Walk the Line, critics have found Jersey Boys to be watered down – a relatively shallow portrait of the men behind the enduring music. The breezy nature of the film, however, could make it a perfect light summer flick.
“As deliberately, consciously old-fashioned as it sometimes is, Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys is also often fresh, with a self-aware sense of fun that concludes with the whole cast dancing down one of those studio back-lot streets. […]Of course, the movie is a little long too, and overly reverent. But natives will love the Jersey references (including someone playing Joe Pesci, a DeVito pal and early Four Seasons' booster).” – Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger
“Why so cheerless, bordering on grim? Was Mr. Eastwood, a lover of music and a champion of musicians, so seduced by the bleaker aspects of the back story that he neglected the production's grace notes? Whatever the cause, the movie turns sour when the singers aren't singing. And the first-person accounts don't work at all, even though much of their substance comes from the show.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“[Jersey Boys] can simultaneously be enjoyed as a fun summer musical set in a bygone era and a Gatsby-style American tragedy about the impossibility of escaping the past. When it comes to any larger questions about what was lost or gained, and whether Frankie Valli’s odyssey was worth it, Eastwood throws up his hands. Who knows? He’s made a thoroughly tolerable and non-insulting summer movie for grown-ups; isn’t that enough?” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com
"Still, as flat and pitchy as the film sometimes feels, what saves it are those nostalgic, soaring doo-wop numbers (especially ''Sherry'') and Eastwood's measured doses of directorial playfulness, such as when the actors cheekily break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience, as they did on Broadway. This trick doesn't always work, but when it does, and Valli or one of his bandmates turns to the camera, winks, and dishes about how the reality of events clashes with what we're actually witnessing on screen, it gooses the film with a giddy jolt of jukebox electricity.” – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
Jersey Boys is currently in wide release.