Hollywood turns to all types of sources when it comes to ideas for movies. Books are their most prized source, comic books, old TV shows and once in a while, they will try adapting a smash Broadway hit for the big screen. When they do that, the results are usually less than stellar, but they are giving it another go with the Tony award winning "Jersey Boys" which opens today, June 20. They probably thought they were hedging their bets when they brought on Clint Eastwood to direct, but they are going to end up with another Broadway miss movie.
Four young men from New Jersey, who should have ended up in jail, or worse, dead, by their own account, beat the odds and form the musical group The Four Seasons. They produced many great hits over the years until the New Jersey within them brings about their downfall.
Having never seen the Broadway production, it would not be prudent to declare which version of "Jersey Boys" is superior. However, after seeing the movie version one would have to conclude the play is much better by leaps and bounds considering how long it has been running and the number of Tony awards it won. This movie is no "Chicago" and it is unlikely to end up with any Oscar nominations next year.
"Jersey Boys" is a one note movie. Most of it feels like these guys are whining all the time. The Boys part of the title certainly fits because that's what they act like much of the time. Maybe if you are from New Jersey you will get more out of it or you will feel insulted. Anytime someone does something that could be considered idiotic is chalked up to them just being from New Jersey.
Besides having the characters getting on one's nerves, the movie moves painfully slow. The movie takes so much time setting the plot up and it is hard to imagine the play moving that slowly and being a success. Different band members talk to the camera and you can tell that those characters talk to the audience in the stage version, but what elements that made the play such a success are apparently missing in the movie. People who saw an advanced screening of "Jersey Boys" in West Palm Beach and who did see the play could immediately be heard commenting on how the play was better.
Please note there is nothing precisely wrong with Clint Eastwood's directing. A musical overture opens the movie to help give it that Broadway feel and the camera work on the movie is flawless, the problem really falls on the screenplay as the play just didn't translate well to the movie screen. When the band gets older the makeup they wear in the stage version is probably passable, but the makeup used on them in that time period in the movie is surprisingly sub-par. June has certainly made up for all the awful movies May provided this summer season, but it would be too much to ask if one movie did not disappoint and right now that movie turned out to be "Jersey Boys." It is rated R for language throughout.