25 June 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

by Kevin Powers

A stage actor, two unknowns, and Vincent Piazza as The Four Seasons in Clint Eastwood's  Jersey Boys
“Jersey Boys,” based on the Broadway musical, stars a talented lead in John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli (Tony Winner for the original play). He does a mean impersonation.

There are some surprisingly funny references, especially in the introduction of Joey (Joseph Russo), actually Joe Pesci of “Goodfellas” fame, who in real life played a role in getting The Four Seasons their big break.

Vincent Piazza, perfectly cast as criminal/guitar player Tommy DeVito, kicks off the story, which uses a broken fourth wall having the other three members of the foursome tell Frankie’s story directly to the audience. An interesting idea that I’m sure works even better on the stage.

That’s about it for this entire movie. It is, in fact, sometimes just bad. Most of the first act seems to be a sort of “Goodfellas” story, slowly playing up the rags-to-riches theme. It is nice and polished. Why, then, should there be a scene where characters are in a convertible that’s obviously been shot on a sound stage?

Clint Eastwood, a fine director, can’t quite seem to figure out where he stands on the production. Is this a gangster movie or a musical? And why waste Christopher Walken?

Franki Valli and the Four Seasons are known for some of the best pop songs of the early ‘60s. It’s exciting to hear them, but why are they so muted and underdone.

Which brings us to the ugly…

The makeup work in the later scenes is atrocious, most notably in the fake facial hair of Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen). It jumps around in time uncontrollably. Frankie Valli’s “family drama” comes out of nowhere and doesn’t land at all.

Biopics are often very good. This one is barely okay. When the musical number at the closing credits played, I was finally seeing the movie I had hoped for.

“Jersey Boys” is a missed opportunity.  

Produced and Directed by Clint Eastwood

Screenplay by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, based on their play “Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons”

Starring John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Vincent Piazza, and Christopher Walken

Rated R for language throughout

Now Playing at: Cinemark Tinseltown USA (Oak Ridge), Regal West Towne Mall, Regal Pinnacle 18 (Turkey Creek), Regal Riviera Stadium 8 (Downtown Knoxville), and Carmike 10 (Millertown Pike)


  1. I felt that this was a missed opportunity as well. Nice to hear your kind words about Vincent Piazza though. He was easily the highlight of the film for me.

  2. No doubt. I love his work on "Boardwalk Empire" as well. Thanks for commenting.