This is a film that normally would make for easy discard by critics and moviegoers alike; a simplistic story about four troubled New Jersey youths growing up, each trying to make it big and get out of their neighborhood for good. Many could argue that with a plot and movie conclusion already predetermined, all that’s left is for some feel-good music to be thrown in to break up the dialogue--and keep impatient audiences awake. Fortunately, despite criticism from film experts to the contrary, director Clint Eastwood’s latest movie works. In fact, “Jersey Boys” doesn’t just work, it rock and rolls.
“Jersey Boys” is not, however, only a movie about 1960s pop culture music and a fresh leading voice; truthfully, it’s a film about relationships—deep-rooted and loyal friendships attempting to survive hardships and disappointments behind every music label. The foursome may have been brought together by the common goal to make chart-topping songs, but it’s their close personal bond that makes this true story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons so compelling.
Eastwood deserves credit for making “Jersey Boys” entertaining for audiences of all ages. He masterfully casts newcomers in the film (minus Christopher Walken) and soft handedly introduces us to the popular rock genre of songs from 50 years ago. Between recognizable hits like “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like A Man”, Eastwood expertly highlights the group’s change in dynamics from novice crooners to one of the best-selling bands of all time.
It’s a difficult task to transform a true story into more than two hours of cinematic bliss. There are bound to be slower moments along a life’s journey that still need to be told, in order for the greater film whole to be connected and understood. My only movie downgrade for “Jersey Boys” are these handful, but necessary, background sketches to provide viewers the complete picture in the proper context. That’s the price--and difficulty--of taking true-life stories and keeping faith with that account. Nevertheless, so much of “Jersey Boys” provides a fascinating look at the musical predecessors to the Beatles; the culture captured so eloquently in the film through the clothes, speech, mannerisms, and yes, even the music.
“Jersey Boys” steps up and delivers to moviegoers. If the music doesn’t have you smiling, then seeing four young men rise to number one on the Billboard charts will. This film’s true story, under Clint Eastwood’s fine direction, illustrates how far friendship and talent can take a group if they really want it. Eastwood’s final act pays tribute to the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. With over 100 million records sold worldwide, The Four Seasons still ranks as one of America’s most successful bands ever. “Jersey Boys” shows us how a group of troubled youths became such a pop culture icon in the 1960s. That’s something people of all ages can enjoy.