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'Jersey Boys' review: Too gentle to impress

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Jersey Boys, the movie

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Released on June 20, 2014, “Jersey Boys” is director Clint Eastwood’s first film behind the camera since his mixed-reviewed “J. Edgar” three years ago. Based on the Broadway musical about the popular group The Four Seasons, “Jersey Boys” is a tame presentation without any soul.

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A look at the creation and disbanding of The Four Seasons, “Jersey Boys” highlights the weight of their origin neighborhood in New Jersey. A local criminal with an aim for a future in the Mafia with Gyp DeCarlo (Christopher Walken), Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) mentors young Frankie Castelluccio (John Lloyd Young) first as a novice criminal and then as a singer. As their band becomes more popular, Frankie changes his name to Frankie Valli, they add Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) and singer/songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), and they settle on the band name The Four Seasons after working a deal with producer Bob Crewe (Mike Doyle). They reach great heights with hits like “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” in the 60s, but the members process their success in different ways; Bob and Frankie become a partnership within the group, but Tommy still demands to be the leader while funneling their money into his debt, and Nick feels left out. When Tommy’s debt grows to an enormous size which encourages a Mafia representative, Norm Waxman (Donnie Kehr), to threaten the group, The Four Seasons’ members finally reach their limit and are never the same.

Astonishingly impersonal, Clint Eastwood plays it safe with "Jersey Boys" by not delving into the men’s home lives too much. Unfortunately, the storytelling has no spark, no emotion. Few scenes involve the feelings of the characters. Frankie’s family receives some attention in glimpses, but the dramatic split from his wife (Renee Marino) and sudden problems with his daughter Francine (Freya Tingley) come out of nowhere as we’re told ten years have passed since the group began.

This long, mild biopic is not a movie to inspire much feeling at all. No one will hate it, but no one will love it, either. Though it’s rated R, “Jersey Boys” is a film you can feel comfortable seeing with anyone from your grandma to your kid (as long as they’re already familiar with the F-word).

Rating for “Jersey Boys:” B-

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“Jersey Boys” is playing around Columbus at most theatres, including Movie Tavern and Starplex 10. For showtimes, click here.

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