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‘Jersey Boys’ grooving with the four seasons

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Jersey Boys

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When Broadway musicals are turned into movies, there are always trade-offs. However, it appears that this time, the film was able to retain the flavor and grandeur which was so characteristic of the story itself. In “Jersey Boys” we get the entire low down on who Frankie Valli was, where he came from, and how he rose to fame.

While the film endeavors to be accurate it’s portrayal of women is one of its main failings. Frankie’s mother is seen marginally, the courtship of his wife is literally one scene and then they are married. Further along, when they are recording as back-up singers for a female group we never learn who the group was because they are merely a prop to move the story along. This would be excusable, except that Valli himself has three daughters, however only one of them is highlighted within the story.

However it is choices such as how a film is structured that define the message of the story and how it relates to the viewer. This brings us to the next point, which is the over use of narration in which characters suddenly turn to the audience, thus breaking the fourth wall, and start explaining what in fact they are supposed to be showing. While this is a device in the Broadway shows, when it is done in the confines of film, it begins to grate like nails sliding over and over again on a chalk board.

The other device which they employed was looping back in time. While this can, and has been used effectively within films, in this instance, it feels jarring and was clearly used as a plot device to set the stage for why the “Four Seasons” broke up and what the repercussions were. However, the impact is that one feels thrust out the main story and pulled backwards. The other side effect of this is that it makes the story drag. When, if it had been a seamless it would have retained a sense of continuity.

We the audience want to feel that we are back in the fifties, experiencing how the Jersey boys worked their way up; got their breaks, related to each other and those they loved. When does this really happen? This occurs when they sing. The most beautiful moments in the film are when they are singing, and dancing. The cast is loaded with actors from the original Broadway hit. John Lloyd Young, Frankie Valli, Tommy Devito, Tommy Devito,Vincent Piazza , Nick Massi, Michael Lomenda and Bob Gaudio, Erich Bergen all make us want to tap our toes and sing along.

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