Movie: Jersey Boys
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) was a young guy in 1950s Jersey with a good voice. He palled around with Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), Nick Massi (Michael Lomeda) and Nick DeVito (Johnny Cannizzavo), three young men who spent as much time committing penny ante crimes as they did making a few bucks playing as a group in local clubs. Frankie, unlike his buddies, avoided doing jail time because of the protection from local crime boss Gyp DeCarlo (Christopher Walken).
The musical group, The four Lovers, was going nowhere fast. They decided a name change was in order, but couldn’t decide what it should be. While they argued about it, a bowling alley sign flickered to life: The Four Seasons. And they had their name. Things really went their way when a young Joe Pesci (future actor) introduced wannabe songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) to the group. Once Bob’s song Sherry got air time, The Four Seasons were off on a rocket to concert dates and Ed Sullivan TV appearances.
You would think that with major success the lives of these young men would have been golden. But there was the family issues of life on the road, jealousy and personality conflicts, and one member of the group that was responsible for such major D-baggery that it basically tore the group apart.
It was interesting to see how some of the hit songs came about. For instance, hanging around in a hotel room the guys were watching a Kirk Douglas movie, Ace In The Hole, on TV, and in one scene Kirk slaps the female star. One of the guys said, “Oh, she’s going to cry”. Another of the group disagreed, and said, “Nah, big girls don’t cry”. Immediately, we see The Four Season on stage belting out, “BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY!”.
Clint Eastwood is a master director and storyteller, and he got everything he could out of the material. Three of the Four Seasons actors are veterans of the Jersey Boys stage productions, including Tony award winner John Lloyd Young. All of the singing was done by the actors live during the movie scenes, and it was first rate. At the very end of the movie, viewers are treated to an all cast ensemble version of one of The Four Seasons biggest hits, one that was not previously included in the movie. An encore production just like you would get in a big time Broadway production!
Actor To Watch: Christopher Walken is an old pro. It is always a pleasure to see him on the screen. Lead actor John Lloyd Young might get some consideration for acting awards at the end of the year.
Dialogue Nuggets: Frankie – “I’m going to be as big as Frank Sinatra!” Girlfriend – “Yeah, if you stand on a chair!”
“I know that deep, deep, very, very, very deep down, you’re a decent guy.”
Frankie – “You want a contract? Here (offers hand shake), this is a Jersey contract.”