The Movie: 7.5/10
I have never been a huge fan of the music from the 50’s, the doo-wop stuff with 4 or more dudes or dudettes doing a dance number while they a story or meaningless string of made up words. I was, of course, a fan of Happy Days, Andy Griffith, American Graffiti, and other 70’s revisits of the decade that brought us silk suits and girl groups who sang many teenagers into their formative years. When the local husband, Ascully, announced that Jersey Boys is about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons I was neutral, at best. Yet another chance for me to be so wrong about a movie.
We get a retelling, in four part harmony, of the story behind how The Four Seasons were formed, came to fame, and fell apart. Each of the members of the band get a portion of the movie to narrate. The idea, and the box quote, reminds us that history is only what each person can remember, how they remember it, and how they tell it to new generations. Therefore, keep an open mind when watching and don’t take it all as fact. There are actual facts like when they made hit records, songs they did record, etc. The rest is pretty subjective, which makes it a tiny bit more interesting.
The main part of the story is Valli, of course. We get to see how he got his name, some fictionalized version of his personal life, and his role in the band with his voice as his main feature making them unique. There is a mob boss involved to a degree, but even that needs to be taken as a somewhat fictional recounting of events. It’s colorful and dramatic and kind of romanticized so it makes it good for story telling. It’s all these elements that come together for a fun, theatrical version of a slice of history. The thing about this movie is that it’s a film based on a play based on a book based on accounts by different people, 60 years after the whole thing took place. The lesson here, don’t think it’s a flawless biography.
The quality of the performances is top top top notch. I think our Clint gets the best out of his cast. They put all in, without being overly theatrical or caricatures of the people they are portraying. It would be so easy to make a bigger gesture and bigger accents and bigger everything when you think of the times, the people, the music world they are living in. For me, the best thing about the movie was just watching each person do their lines, their interaction with each other, all the nuances they brought to the screen.
The music is really enjoyable. It’s not overpowering, like you might think it would be, but nope, just right. I was turned around a bit on that kind of music. I even sought out a few of the songs to have in my collection. I’m still not in love with the doo-wop stuff, but I understand more about the impact it had on the youth of the time.
Clint Eastwood has a controlled, distinct way of directing his movies. It’s straight forward, no frills, no fluff, just acting and story, which makes a story I am not interested in, into a story I am interested in. Good trick. Give Jersey Boys a watch. It’s got humor and a touch of history, along with that undeniable human element of drive and ambition we find in specific folks like Valli. Watch it, and then get some of the “real” music, and then watch some videos of the real dudes, make it a doo-wop weekend:)
- From Broadway To Big Screen – A 23 minute production documentary that has most of the bases covered. Clint Eastwood and most of the principal cast explore how this popular Broadway musical became a movie.
- Too Good To Be True – A 5 minute look at the journey from stage to screen of two of the principal cast, Erica Piccinni and Donnie Kehr.
- Oh What A Night To Remember – The film ends with a musical number that is different to the film that precedes it. Eastwood and cast and crew discuss the work it took to bring this to the screen.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
I do like the cover and I might even have it as a mini poster somewhere in our movie room. The menu is a menu.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Warner have a striking 1080P/AVC encoded presentation that while great a few issues stop it being perfect. Black Crush and Ringing are the main offenders and skin tones are very washed out. Eastwood chose to use a very desaturated look for the entire film, a look that was popular back in the 60’s and 70’s, personally I feel it doesn’t work well here and holds the films presentation back. Aside from those minor niggles contrast and definition are what you would expect for a HD presentation in 2014.
The DTS-HD 5.1 surround track fares much better without any issues at all. Being a movie that has a lot of music the film lives and dies on its audio presentation so its great that it is so good. Musical numbers feel alive and use all the speakers to create a rich warm sound. Dialog is centered and clear and surround effects are numerous. This is a great sounding movie that lives up to Frankie Valli’s falsetto voice.
Overall Score 7.5/10