Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jersey Boys: It’s All About The Family

 If Big Girls Don’t Cry and you’re supposed to Walk Like A Man, then you’re in for a treat as Jersey Boys, directed by Clint Eastwood, took a side-step from the Broadway stage and hit the big cinema screens.

Although I was the youngest person in the theatre to see this film, I can always appreciate a blast from the past. My parents grew up listening to 50′s style doo-wop and enjoyed TV shows like American Bandstand. I grew up listening to the oldies on the radio, especially whenever we went for long drives in the car. I also often heard my mom singing along to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons songs while doing dishes or cleaning the house.

I will admit that I just love a good musical and so I had really high hopes when I saw the trailer. Four boys from Jersey trying to make it in a cut-throat world. All with different personalities, but with the same core dream of trying to hit it big and being somebody.

It wasn't all cheery and vibrant either. The movie showed the dark side of entertainment, which I think many are blinded by Hollywood glam and fame, so they don’t realize the actual hardships that go on when you’re in the limelight.

The accuracy of what truly occurred remains up to the men who lived it, but it had so much heart, and that makes a great movie.

It is difficult to always mimic the same mannerisms and vocal tone of a legend like Frankie Valli, but John Lloyd Young really made the role his own. I thought his voice was beautiful and perfected certain scenes, especially sitting in a coffee shop, trying to deal with the emotional anguish of losing his daughter. Young also gave me shivers while singing Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.

The other character that really stood out was Nick Massi, played by Michael Lomenda.

Starting out as the yes-man of the group, his maturity grew and was evidenced during one scene when he finally stood up for himself; even though accidentally. Massi may be an afterthought for some, but I enjoyed his role.

Oh, and who can forget the sly mob boss that is Christopher Walkens? The man is naturally gifted at his craft. His subtle humour and ability to steal a scene is unbelievable. Gotta have more cowbell, right?

A couple negatives.

There were several moments when the film felt more like a Soprano’s episode, with the constant cursing and mob references. Sure they are from New Jersey, but the stereotyping seemed like overkill.

It also was a bit creepy to see the overdone ‘elder’ makeup job, as they were stepping out onto the red carpet, when the reunion night took place.

The only other issue was at the end when the sombre story turned ridiculously happy and a musical song number with the entire cast took place. It didn't fit. I loved the idea, but it seemed misplaced, based on the whole feel of the movie.

So, did it live up to my expectations? It did.

With a few minor complaints, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Jersey Boys.