Aside from clocking in at an overly-long 134 minutes, there’s nothing about Jersey Boys that will keep it from being called Clint Eastwood’s best film. It’s going to win all the Oscars. Go see it. Now.
Jersey Boys packs a lot of the punch that I experienced seeing The Godfather (1972) for the first time – an expertly made story of an American family and their triumphs and tragedies. JB is like The Godfather but without brains splattered all over the checkered pizza parlor tablecloths.
Instead of the violence – although it’s occasionally implied and threatened – there are stunning musical numbers. Most of the Saturday morning audience was older than I am, by quite a bit. Many were older than Eastwood, 84. But like me, they remember the remarkable hit songs rolled out by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons back in the 1960s. Incredibly, all but one of the group is still alive and kicking.
This film goes beyond simply telling the story of a group of pop singers finding success because of a guy with a distinctive falsetto. The story spans four decades. Even the ending is an integral part of the story. But I’ll leave you to find out about it yourself.
Starting in 1951 The Four Seasons were just a group of petty criminals – albeit ones who harmonized -who bounced in and out of the local jail. Because Valli was under age, he got off easier than the others.
As they start to gel musically as a group, they enlist a new member, songwriter Bob Gaudio, who wrote all of their biggest original hits. We watch the boys go through all the heartache and problems that plague of a long life in American society.
Their cohesion as a performing group starts coming apart when one singer squanders most of the group’s money, putting them in a deep hole. But Valli shows his loyalty, and resolves their problems while going on to triumph in the music world.
Eastwood has directed and staged what is surely his film masterpiece to date. It’s a beautiful and affectionate look at the 50s and 60s. The dark dramatic turns actually work well without becoming soap opera. This is due to the incredible skills of the actors, who were certainly not cast from the Hollywood All Stars. Instead, they were picked for their ability to do the job. The only name you’ll recognize is Christopher Walken’s.
Initially, I had my doubts about Jersey Boys – remembering the dreadful film version of Mama Mia! (2008). It’s what happens when you bring in big names like Pierce Brosnan and ask them to sing. That wasn’t done here.
Jersey Boys pack a tremendous emotional punch for the audience. I both heard and shared it. We’re all old people now, but we were young once. If you’re young, give it time and, like us, you too will be old. The film is for both groups.
Rated 4.0 out of 4.0 and if you add up 40 and 40 you get the age of Frankie Valli. Still going strong Sherry, Sherry Baby.