Film & TV

Film Review: Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys

The biographical story about the formation of singing sensations The Four Seasons, who swiftly rose from the streets of Jersey, USA to the top of the charts.

Jersey BoysOne of the first stage shows claiming the mantle of ‘jukebox musical’ was Mamma Mia. Based around ABBA tunes, its threadbare plot was secondary to toe-tapping songs and party-like atmosphere.

Since then many have tried to take a slice of this profitable pie. One of them was Jersey Boys, about the rise of American harmony group The Four Seasons. Having seen the show and Four Seasons singer Frankie Valli in concert, I can attest to the power of their songs. Whilst the film adaptation follows a very familiar biographical path, it retains some of the group’s dynamic mystique.

Frankie (John Lloyd Young), Bob (Erich Bergen), Nick (Michael Lomenda) and Tommy (Vincent Piazza) are singers looking for a break. Raised in the rough streets of New Jersey, they aim to use their talents to better their lives. Eventually forming the group The Four Seasons, their skills swiftly sees them rise to the top. All isn’t plain sailing, with marriages, divorce and mob connections conspiring to tear them apart. Their passion for music remains constant as they attempt to cement their legacy for future generations.

The second musical biography directed by Clint Eastwood after 1988s Bird, Jersey Boys is the best of his recent work. More focussed, with a compelling story, it’s an engrossing look at the creation of a popular group. Unlike some biographies, Eastwood manages to retain the theatrical show’s rough edges. No person is presented as a white-washed saint, with their foibles laid bare. The performers embody their roles perfectly allowing you to be drawn into their crushed hopes and rising dreams.

What generally matters is the music which, of course, is great. Fans will know the tunes well and all are sung to perfection. Whilst certain story elements have been changed and some discarded from the show, the authentic feel and main dramatic points are retained. Momentum is well maintained and the period production design is of a high standard.

Given their growing popularity, jukebox musicals are here to stay. If they are of the quality of Jersey Boys, then that’s a good thing. The film adaptation is generally faithful to its source and may make new followers of a group whose musical allure will forever remain.

Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Twitter: @PatrickMoore14

Rating out of 10:  8

 

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