No better review than that! The film recreates a period and the music that my generation danced to. For those that love the Four Seasons’ music but haven’t made it to a good (and usually expensive) production, this is a much more affordable way to very nearly re-create the experience (with a few bonuses that only a film can deliver tossed in).
I went to “Jersey Boys” very reluctantly- the critics were split on its quality- because friends in my age group (I am 63) wanted to go…..as the credits rolled I was singing along, feet tapping, hands in the air, and really glad I came.
The hits are all there: “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “December, 1963”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The staging reminds us of the live shows that we went to and which were so affordable we could go again and again. The dance numbers are lively (and somehow fit right into the narrative).
Many of the cast members come from Broadway or touring “Jersey Boy” productions — a risky choice by Eastwood but one that mostly pays off.
The Four Seasons (whose group name comes from a bowling alley where what might have been their last gig was cancelled), are the setting for talent Frankie Valli. From the mid-1950s, the Jersey-born singer (played with vocal aplomb by John Lloyd Young) experienced all the ups and downs required to earn his own glimpse behind the music. Young, reprising his Tony Award-winning stage role as Valli has an entertainingly smart-mouthed ease and carries off the transformation from a kid in the clutches of a cynical street kid to a leader who accepts both the acclaim of the crowd and the burdens of managing group members intent to grab what they can for themselves.
As interpreted by screenwriters Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, a mobster patron (Christopher Walken) protected Valli from local goodfellas, his best friend Tommy (Vincent Piazza) revolved in and out of jail leading and mis-leading the group, and the singer’s resentful wife (Renee Marino, in a thankless role) and troubled daughters barely knew him.
Young is not as strong as Erich Bergen playing, in a wryly compelling way, Bob Gaudio, the group’s songwriter, a seemingly staid guy who turns out to be a brilliant businessman and a fine human being.
The other standout is Piazza, who adds edginess from start to finish as the street wise deal maker who borrows lots of cash from the mob to cover his expensive tastes. Piazza smolders and glowers as Tommy, the group’s fiery wild card, and the audience loves him, and dislikes him at the same time.
One thing director Clint Eastwood does very well is to integrate the “asides” when the “boys” talk to the audience (even in the midst of musical numbers) about what was on their minds at the time.
The film has real problems that the critics have enjoyed listing but I did not care. The energy of the music and the performers, the quality of the sound emerging from my youth as well as numerous unexpected moments of wit, carries it along and that carried me along. Oh, what a night.