on July 7, 2014
When Francesco Stephen Castelluccio stepped on the stage in Washington, DC a few days ago at the Capitol Fourth celebration of the Fourth of July, he needed no introduction. Shrugging his shoulders and snapping his fingers, he took the mike and began to sing! It was the still strong falsetto voice...the voice of Frankie Valli, the lead singer of the Four Seasons.
In the eight years since the Broadway play of JERSEY BOYS won four Tony Awards including Best Musical, it's been hard to ignore the revival of the Four Seasons' many hits nor the mounting praise for the story of their rise from obscure local band to rock `n' roll sensation. Long before JERSEY BOYS reached its 3487th Broadway performance on April 9, 2014, a movie seemed in the works. Warner Brothers dropped the project but Graham King of GK Films acquired the rights and picked Clint Eastwood to direct.
JERSEY BOYS, the film released on June 20, 2014, tells the story of the rise of The Four Seasons, an American rock and pop singing group, that was formed by three juvenile delinquents: Frankie Valli (Francesco Stephen Castelluccio), the lead singer, Nick Massi, bass guitar and vocals, and Tommy DeVito, lead guitar and baritone vocals, who grew up around Newark, New Jersey in the 1950s. Bob Gaudio, a fellow from the Bronx formerly of the Royal Teens, joined the group in 1960 as tenor vocal on keyboards and wrote most of their early hit songs.
The movie is well cast. John Lloyd Young, the Tony winner and original Broadway cast member, reprises his role as Valli. Erich Bergen as Gaudio, Michael Lomenda as Massi, and Vincent Piazza as DeVito round out the other Four Seasons nicely. The real life character of Gyp Decarlo is played by Christopher Walken. Decarlo was a mob boss that had ties to The Four Seasons via Tommy DeVito who helped the group when Tommy racked up a significant amount of debts by mediating their negotiations with a loan shark. Decarlo also, in the movie, tears up when he listens to Valli singing his first single, "My Mother's Eyes" (1953).
It's an American story, folks, this movie about the JERSEY BOYS. It's the story of four American-born young men who achieved the American Dream. And they did it on the Ed Sullivan show before that strange group of guys in funny hairdos from across the pond did it.
You'll come out of the theater humming those jukebox songs like "Sherry"..."December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)"..."My Eyes Adored You"..."Can't Take My Eyes Off You"..."Working My Way Back to You" and "Rag Doll." Clint Eastwood and I probably don't recall all the words...but I bet somewhere Frankie Valli (also an octogenarian) is snapping his fingers and belting out all the words in his incredible falsetto voice.
"Jersey Boys" (2014 release; 134 min.) is the big screen adaptation of the Broadway show "Jersey Boys", itself loosely based on the life and times of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. As the movie opens, we are in 1951 in Belleville, NJ, where Frankie, then 16, is working in a barber shop. Over the course of the next 45 min., we get to know the other guys who would make up the group that would eventually name itself the Four Seasons (after a bowling alley, if we can believe the movie), and how slowly but surely the band is working towards success. The second half of the movie deals with less music-oriented themes, but focuses more on the tensions within the band and the personal sufferings and even tragedies they experience. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first, I have not seen the Broadway show, so I cannot comment how closely it stays to that, although I am guessing that the dramatic elements have been played up and prolonged for Hollywood purposes (and that's fine by me). Second, the movie is directed (and also produced) by Clint Eastwood. If that surprises you, it really shouldn't as Eastwood is known to be a passionate music aficionado (he not only directed another music bio-pic "Bird" about jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker in the late 80s, but he has also composed the movie score for a number of his movies, including the Oscar-winning "Million Dollar Baby"). I happen to think Eastwood is one of the great director of this age, and at a mere 84 years of age, he's just getting warmed up! The movie is rich with visual details that you just feel are Eastwood's touch. Third, usually in this type of bio-pic, the earlier years tend to be the most interesting ones. Strangely enough, the exact opposite is true here: for me the movie didn't really take off until we see the four guys go at it against each other, with Tommy DeVito easily taking the price for biggest (take your pick) jerk/egomaniac, and later when Frankie deals with his estranged family (due to being on the road almost non-stop). Fourth, there are some great performances in the movie, none more so that John Lloyd Young as Frankie, the role which he also played for several years when the show opened on Broadway. You swear that it is Frankie himself. And that voice!
Bottom line: although a bit long for its own good, "Jersey Boys" was very enjoyable, more so than I expected. To be honest, I don't know that I would've gone to see this, but for the fact that Eastwood directed this. The movie opened here in Cincinnati last weekend, and I saw it on a late matinee work day. I was quite surprised how well attended that screening was, indicating that this movie may have some legs amidst all of the seemingly endless stream of comic book and other such super-heroes action movies. "Jersey Boys" is definitely worth checking out, be in in the theater or on DVD/Blu-ray!
on June 28, 2014
I don't know if I can put it into words! First, I love the music. Its the music that I grew up on and I was always a huge Frankie Valli fan. Absolutely love his voice! Second, the guys in the movie are excellent choices to play their characters. John Lloyd Young is wonderful in the role of Frankie. I loved the fact that Clint Eastwood had all the music done live for the film and not "canned" stuff that takes away from the magic. I love the way that the movie told the story with insights from each of the characters. I loved Christopher Walken's portrayal of Gyp. I learned quite a few things about my favorite group that I never knew and it just endeared them to me that much more. I understand (from an interview with Frankie Valli) that the group kept much of the "seedier" aspects of their lives private because they were afraid that they would not get recording contracts or get their music heard. And I can see that happening from that period of time. I've seen the movie twice and plan to go again. I have already ordered the DVD to be shipped to me when it is available. I have also downloaded music by John Lloyd Young and I can't stop listening to it. It brings back many memories....
on July 2, 2014
This is the movie based on the international hit musical show.
It's an entertaining and engaging biopic, telling the story of the Four Seasons musical group, and its members.
The focus of the movie is on telling the story of the band, rather than performance of the music. Nonetheless, several of the Four Seasons hits are presented as part of the story.
Translating a musical from the stage to the screen can be a difficult process. The translation of Jersey Boys has involved a refocussing on the narrative story, rather than the music. I suspect the film is best viewed on its own merits as a biopic, rather than a stage show adapted to the screen. The structure of the story telling has been changed significantly from the stage show (which tells the group's story from the perspective of each member).
I thought the direction by Clint Eastwood was masterful- telling the story in a matter of fact fashion, effectively blending drama, emotion and humor. The interactions between the members of the band - in particular their tensions - are portrayed realistically.
It is an entertaining and well crafted film, which I suspect will satisfy most viewers. The finale is particularly entertaining, featuring all the characters performing together- as in the finale to a stage production.
Incidentally, watch out for Clint Eastwood appearing on a television screen as Rowdy Yates from Rawhide.
on July 25, 2014
Absolutely Perfection! I saw a stage version (loved it..) not with John Lloyd Young but after seeing this movie.. wish I had gotten to see that stage version. Definitely buying the movie.. already have the album and that era really hits HOME for me.
on July 21, 2014
Eastwood once again has given to us a slice of American history. This time it is in Music, rock 'n' roll. The film would have ganered 5 stars if it's director decided to include two very important facts about the Four Seasons. Frankie Valli was not the younget in the film. Eastwood has given you the impression that he was the youngest and his age was about 20. Valli, however was born n 1934,
making him 28 when their first it, Sherry, hit the charts in 1962. Another source list his birthday as 1937, thus making him 15. Second, for a majority of his career, Valli was almost deaf in one ear. It subsequently was operated on and he was restored with normal hearing. Despite these issues, the remainder of the fllm showcases the great career of the Four Seasons and their influence on American pop music. Besides the Beach Boys, the Four Seasons were the most popular group on the music scene. Gtreat production coupled with great musical support. A few hits were omited, most noticeably, Silver Star and Rhapsody (their last charted song). I suggest that you still go and see this film despite the few flaws. When we saw the movie on the first day of isduance,the average age of the audience was over 50. Hopefully all ages will get the oppirtunity to see one of the greatest musical acts not just of the 60's, but of American music. The movie simply transporrts you to the early 60's and keeps you entertained for over two hours. Great job and kudos to Mr. Eastwood. The screen projects one great performance after another. Outstanding entertinment.
on August 4, 2014
Having been involved in the record business in the mid 60's; having seen the 4 Seasons perform live in the mid 60's in Philadelphia; and also having seen the show on Broadway, it was with great anticipation to see how this show would be handled on the large screen. Eastwood is a master craftsman as his many accolades and awards demonstrate. I loved seeing them live in concert, and i really enjoyed seeing Jersey Boys on Broadway too.
I absolutely loved the movie and how the characters were developed and brought to life on the big screen in a way which could not be done on stage. I thought that the movie was actually superior to the Broadway show as it delved into the individual group members while also introducing much of the audience to the inner workings of the music industry at that time.
Retrospectively I feel that the Broadway show was little more than seeing a "Tribute Band" of the 4 Seasons, in contrast to the movie which actually brought the viewer up close and drew them into the story. I Salute Clint Eastwood for another fantastic job.
Although my particular expertise was in the area of recording sound mixer and production, i cannot comment on the sound quality of the motion picture as the exhibitor chose to present this movie in a non Dolby Digital auditorium which was my only disappointment. (not a disappointment with the movie, but with the theater).
I anxiously await the Blue Ray HD release of this film so that i can once again enjoy the full rich sounds in my home theater.
on September 22, 2014
Loved this movie! The music is awesome and the story was great also. Actors seemed to "real" and when I came home it struck me how old Frankie Valli was now ; ) Can't wait to buy this and wear it out. I could have gone back a dozen times to see it! John Lloyd Young and Erich Bergen were amazing!
on August 9, 2014
Brilliant, engaging saga of one of the biggest U.S. groups of the 1960's holding their own against such giants as The Supremes and The Beach Boys, as well as the U.K. Brit Invaders...it is a joy to see and hear and will be a joy to own.. the soundtrack album is breathtakingly fabulous!
JERSEY BOYS, 2014, is a new biography/drama/musical, the history of four working class young men from New Jersey who somehow came together to form the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons. It is based on the long-running, massively popular Broadway musical of the same name. As a film, it was directed by the iconic actor/macho movie star/director Clint Eastwood and written by Marshall Brickman. According to Broadway.com, as quoted at IMDb, "Jersey Boys is a musical biography of the Four Seasons-the rise, the tough times and personal clashes, and the ultimate triumph of a group of friends whose music became symbolic of a generation. Far from a mere tribute concert (though it does include numbers from the popular Four Seasons songbook), Jersey Boys gets to the heart of the relationships at the center of the group-with a special focus on front man Frankie Valli, the small kid with the big falsetto. In addition to following the quartet's coming of age as performers, the core of the show is how an allegiance to a code of honor learned in the streets of their native New Jersey got them through a multitude of challenges: gambling debts, Mafia threats and family disasters. Jersey Boys is a glimpse at the people behind a sound that has managed to endure for over four decades in the hearts of the public."
Many reviewers have noted that director Eastwood was shrewd enough to cast as his principals mainly young men who have worked in the theatrical production. His stars include Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito, John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, Johnny Cannizzaro as Nick DeVito and Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi. I'd never seen any of them before, as unfortunately, I left New York and its Broadway some years ago. And, in fact, I knew hardly any of the actors up on the screen, just Steve Schirripa, (THE SOPRANOS), as Vito; noted dancer Christopher Walken, (HAIRSPRAY), as Gyp DeCarlo, good-hearted mobster, and Lou Volpe, frequently cast as an Italian father, as Frankie's father. But I rather liked the fact that I was seeing most of these actors for the first time; it added to the movie's credibility for me. The qualifications of director Eastwood, who by now is possibly as well-known as a director,(INVICTUS, GRAN TORINO, MILLION DOLLAR BABY); as an actor, (BLOODWORK, UNFORGIVEN) have been questioned by some reviewers I have read elsewhere who doubt his ability to handle musical material. Of course, other reviewers have replied that, in his career he has directed PLAY MISTY FOR ME, and BIRD, which was about jazzman Charlie Parker, both with musical themes. Though never anything about rock and roll and it's possible he's not the best possible director for this material. Many reviewers have also complained that the film is predictable, and utilizes every cliché in the book about its genre. Guess this is more or less true; but whether it's to be a biopic about the Beatles or the Four Seasons it seems there are some constants, Stations of the Cross if you will. Scuffling working class lads, who may have a few brushes with the law, or with the local mobsters. Validation on the Ed Sullivan show. The touring life, partying, girls, drugs, quarreling and dissolution of the group. Stations of the Cross. Hard to avoid. Another reviewer complained that Christopher Walken, who began in show business as a dancer, wasn't in the big final dance scene. But he was, saw him with my own eyes. Perhaps not as front and center as he deserved to be, but hey...
Well, as urbanites, in this house, we love a floating falsetto lead: Frankie Lyman of the Teenagers, Smokey Robinson, Aaron Neville, Frankie Valli. I was lucky enough to see Frankie Valli once, at New York's Radio City Music Hall, and it was memorable. My husband and I have been recommended many times to see "Jerseys Boys" on Broadway. Haven't been able to manage it, doubt we ever will, though I believe it's still actually playing. Too bad. So we were eager to see the movie. And we really liked it. Well, it's our music; we know the melodies and words in our red blood cells. Similarly, you know whether it'll be your thing.
Me, I've been humming and singing those songs all week, ever since seeing the picture. Maybe I'll declare myself the fifth Season?