I should start off by saying that I know next to nothing about the stage version of Jersey Boys. So I’m writing about the movie as a standalone entity; as I try to with most movies. I was expecting Jersey Boys to be a musical. However, it’s more like a dramatized biographical work.
Jersey Boys is a series of stories from the life of Frankie Valli and his group, The Four Seasons. Valli and The Four Seasons are known for such songs as “Sherry”, “Walk Like a Man” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”. The film establishes Frankie’s past growing up in New Jersey and his affiliation with the criminal element there. They pay particular attention to his association with a mobster named Gyp (played by Christopher Walken) and the role that he plays in protecting Frankie and helping him and protecting him so that he could focus on his singing. The other big influence in Frankie’s life is Tommy Devito (Vincent Piazza), who both mentors and manipulates Frankie for most of his young life. Along with being a guitarist and band manager, Frankie is also a career criminal under Gyp who helps protect Frankie.
After establishing Frankie’s background, the movie shows the events surrounding the big moments in Frankie’s professional life. It starts with the introduction of long time partner Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) into the group and ends with the Four Season’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Each event is kind of like a snapshot of Frankie’s life at a certain moment in time and most revolve around the release or creation of a hit song. Each snapshot is narrated by a different member of the Four Seasons who breaks the 4th wall to speak to the audience. Oddly enough the only member that doesn’t narrate one of these moments is Frankie himself.
Ultimately, the movie feels very disjointed because of the way the story is told. There’s no progression from moment to moment, instead each moment just happens for what it is. While you do glean enough information to tell what’s happening it leaves you with a real feeling that you’re missing a lot. For instance, we only see Frankie’s wife briefly when they’re married and the next time we see her, they’ve apparently had several children even though nothing was ever mentioned about that. There’s a lot of these strange time jumps all over the movie and they’re not doing it any favors.
The music in the film is solid but not anything that you couldn’t get by just picking up a Frankie Valli greatest hits CD. There is one big Broadway style number at the end of the movie but, by then, it’s too little too late. Knowing that this was a Broadway show, I was expecting to see more of these kinds of numbers brought to the screen instead of reenactments of real life performances. It was interesting to see some of the things that were going on behind the scenes of these musical moments but “interesting” isn’t the same as entertaining and that’s where this movie is disappointing.
This film has been in theaters for going on 3 months in my city and, after seeing it, I can’t understand why. Assuming that the movie’s facts are accurate this movie is, at best, educational. If they’re not I can’t think of much of a reason to see this film. That is, unless you’re a die hard Frankie Valli fan.
Jersey Boys (Movie)
- Faithful renditions of the original music
- Depicts interesting details surrounding the career of the artists
- Very little plot and what's there is hard to follow as a continuous story
- Pressumes that the audience has prior knowledge of the characters and story