Jersey Boys has been a hit musical all over the world since it first opened in 2005, and has been seen on Broadway, in the West End and in Melbourne, as well as multiple touring productions. In 2014, Clint Eastwood brought the stage show to the big screen and in a change from the norm for stage to screen adaptations, he cast the film with a mixture of stage and screen performers, some of which had performed in Jersey Boys on stage.
Jersey Boys tells the true to life story of The Four Seasons, the iconic 1960’s rock band made up of Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi, Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli. Their journey to fame was not an easy one, and both the show and this film depict that truthfully, showing their many run ins with the police, issues with their home lives and the arguments within the group that eventually tore the group apart. Whereas the show is clearly split into four seasons, each narrated by a member of the group, the film runs in a more continuous fashion, without losing the regular breaking of the fourth wall that the stage show is well known for.
Vincent Piazza, John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen and Michael Lomenda played the roles of Tommy, Frankie, Bob and Nick respectively and play the parts really well. Screen actors Piazza and Bergen suit the roles of Tommy and Bob to a tee.Piazza is able to convey Tommy’s intense personality with ease. This is a character who has this massive drive to succeed, but has an even bigger ego. The only character with an ego bigger than Tommy’s is probably Bob, played by Erich Bergen. As the character states, he firmly believes that that the band’s success is down to him, and that none of it could have happened without him. With such big personalities in the group, it’s a surprise really that The Four Seasons lasted as long as they did.
John Lloyd Young plays the role of Frankie Valli here, showing off the talents that won him the best actor in a musical Tony award for the role. His vocals are incredibly impressive and he carries the real emotional load for this story. Frankie goes through a lot, and it comes across that he uses the band and the music as his escape, explaining why he works so hard to keep it together. Michael Lomenda plays the role of Nick Massi here, a role that he also played both on Broadway and in the national tour. You can’t help but feel for the character of Nick, because you can see that he is really put through it with the group, having to deal with the big egos of Tommy and Bob whilst trying to help Frankie through his troubles at home, all whilst being more than aware that he is the least popular member of the group with the fans.
You can not fault the performances of the cast in this film, even if it would have been nice to see a stage performer in the role of Gyp DeCarlo instead of Christopher Walken, and the music is well performed. There is also a lot more detail in the film then there is in the show, for example, the first half an hour or so of the film is covered in an eight minute song in the show. Whilst, for someone who has seen the show, this feels a little dragged out in places, it does allow us to see more character development. We also see a lot more of the story of Francine Valli, Frankie’s troubled daughter, brilliantly played by Freya Tingley.
I did enjoy this film, and felt that it was both true to the show and to the real story, but there is one rather big thing that bugged me about it. And that was the colour. When I think of Jersey Boys, I think of those iconic bright red jackets, but due to the strange dulled down, almost monotone look of this film, you don’t get to see that bright red. Everything in this movie is washed out, what should be red appears more brown and it makes it look really old fashioned. A very strange creative choice if you ask me, and one that distracts from an otherwise very enjoyable film.