It is natural to think that Broadway musicals and Hollywood films are often intertwined – one influencing the other at any point. ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Kinky Boots’ are plays that derived from films successfully. ‘Rent’, ‘Le Miserables’, and ‘Mamma Mia’ have been made into glossy and grandiose films that have enchanted audiences. ‘Jersey Boys’ is the latest Tony Award-winning musical to join the latter with Clint Eastwood at the helm of the film adaptation. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elise join the creative team translating their musical book into rich dialogue and entertaining scenes.
The film is a biographical drama about Frankie Valli and the musical group The Four Seasons – and it all starts in New Jersey where the boys wanted nothing more than to get out of the neighborhood. The storyline follows the musical’s narrative form exploring the rise, success and break-up of the group and throughout each member of the band narrates their point of view. Of course, add to that the musical numbers and songs that audiences love – making the film a highly entertaining adventure.
Clint Eastwood crafts meticulous and well-paced camera movements in the film that enhance the drama and humor of the story. Each character gets a moment in the spotlight, aside from the boys’ narratives, capturing the idea of an ensemble presence throughout the film. However, the story is about the guys and each one has their strong moments, but none is stronger as John Lloyd Young who reprises his role as Frankie Valli in the film. ‘Jersey Boys’ is about the group, but Valli’s voice is the one that mesmerizes every time.
The musical numbers are the strongest part in the film – which is expected on a musical adaptation. There is no doubt that fans, even newcomers, will embrace the spectacular showmanship and scenes that capture the essence of Valli and The Four Seasons. The acting is on point but at times some scenes are overdramatic or foolish – which makes one wonder if that is the writers’ intention. Personally, actors speaking directly to the camera are for documentaries or CNN interviews but in film or TV is not something that works – at least not for me. Once the actor breaks that imaginary fourth wall it feels unoriginal and changes the entire dynamics of the scene.
‘Jersey Boys’ is an entertaining musical film adaptation that delivers the energetic and charismatic story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Eastwood clearly shows that he is a versatile director adding style and camera movements to enhance the musical play onto film. The musical numbers are the driving force making it a truly marvelous experience.