Review: Clint Eastwood's 'Jersey Boys' is way out of tune
Whatever charms turned the musical “Jersey Boys” into a Tony-winning Broadway hit are sorely missed in Clint Eastwood's tone-deaf corpse of a movie. Late to the game, blandly cast and scripted with every Italian-American cliche, it is Eastwood's worst film as a director.
And it does Franki Valli and the Four Seasons no favors either, overselling their cultural significance, rendering their story in broad, tried and trite strikes.
“Jersey Boys” follows little Frankie Castelluccio (John Lloyd Young), son of a New Jersey barber, from his teens, training to follow in Dad's footsteps. But all the Italian-Americans in Belleville see bigger things for Frankie.
If only he can get a break. If only he can stay out of trouble with his musician pal, Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), a “two-bit hustler.”
Frankie is the gang's lookout, signaling that the cops are coming by screeching “Silhouettes,” the doo-wop hit by The Rays.
Since this happens in 1951 and the song didn't come out until 1957, that Frankie was plainly ahead of his time. Or Eastwood has turned careless with the details.
The story arc — struggles to get a record deal, inspiration in the studio, breaking out on radio, then money troubles, internal strife, tragedy, etc. — is so overfamiliar that it lacks a single surprise.
Removed from that era, Valli's adenoidal falsetto evokes a giggle, on first hearing. Try to listen to “Sherry,” the group's screeching first hit, without laughing. But his range was always impressive, as was their longevity — 29 Top 40 hits spanning three decades.
The musical mixes up the song order and exposes the tunes' limitations. “My Eyes Adored You,” with the creepy line “though I never laid a hand on you,” gets turned into a lullaby Frankie sings to his little girl. And becomes even creepier when it does.
Piazza, as the annoying, overbearing DeVito, is the only member of the group to make an impression. Christopher Walken, playing the benign (of course) mobster who watches over Frankie, is given little to do. Only Renee Marino, as the Italian spitfire who became Frankie's first wife, threatens to animate this picture and give it the acting jolt it needs. But doesn't.
“Jersey Boys” is such a poor reflection of Eastwood's best work that, just when you think, “At least the musician in him does justice to the songs,” there's a botched horn arrangement in “Can't Take My Eyes Off of You.” Just when you think, “Well, there's a big ensemble dance number coming, and he cast Christopher Walken,” he misses getting the famed dance man in the shot.
So, the guy who directed “Bird” has made the worst screen musical since “Rock of Ages.” And it's little comfort knowing this won't be his last film, or how he's remembered. It just makes you fear he'll end his directing career on an even worse note next year, with “American Sniper.”
Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Let It Snow’ filming in Millvale
- Pittsburgh-set ‘Me and Earl’ big at Sundance, gets distribution deal
- Film review: ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ draws heartfelt laughs, tears
- ‘Birdman’ gets Oscar boost with 2 weekend wins
- Romero’s son plans ‘Living Dead’ origins story
- DVD reviews: ‘The Boxtrolls,’ ‘The Drop’ and ‘Lucy’