Jersey Boys: Great Music, but Not Much Else (Blu-ray)
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the name of “Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons,” you undoubtedly know a number of their songs. Their plethora of hits include “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” “Walk Like a Man,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Workin’ My Way Back to You,” “Bye Bye Baby,” and many more. It was that incredible music that inspired the Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” which, as so often happens, inspired the film adaptation. The musical tells the story of how a group of young men, including Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), and Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), got together to form a band. It takes a little while for them to get a shot at a contract, but with Frankie’s unique vocal talents and Bob’s amazing gift for writing songs, they eventually become huge stars, with several #1 hits and bookings on shows such as “American Bandstand” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” However, with great success comes great difficulty in keeping it all together, which eventually leads into ties with the mob and the threat of the group falling apart completely.
“Jersey Boys” is a fascinating idea for a musical, and indeed it must work incredibly well on stage what with it winning major acclaim and even the Tony Award for Best Musical of 2005. However, when it comes to bringing that same idea to the screen, it becomes a whole different matter. This film adaptation, brought to us by director Clint Eastwood of all people, has its heart in the right place, trying to tell us the origin story of The Four Seasons, but sadly it lacks energy, emotion, and basically any reason to get engaged in the story at all.
It basically sits there on the screen and never comes to life over the course of 134 minutes, which can be a very long sit when there’s nothing pulling you into the tale of this amazing group. You do get a few moments of reprieve throughout the film when another musical number is struck up, but all that does is remind you that you’d rather be listening to the music than sitting through this flat rendition of their origins. It’s an idea that should have worked marvelously for the screen, but without the same energy from the music being put into the narrative, it’s not surprising at all that it would hit a flat note early on and never be able to recover.
“Jersey Boys” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.4:1, 1080p transfer of excellent quality, boasting a perfectly sharp picture that does a great job of showing off the incredibly detailed period décor. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally outstanding, giving each amazing musical number the chance to shine, a rather important element when it comes to movie musicals. Overall, the film looks and sounds great, giving you an optimal experience in both areas.
From Broadway to the Big Screen: An interesting exploration of how the stage show was adapted into a film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew.
Too Good to Be True: This is a very brief featurette that’s kind of all over the place, but it doesn’t have anything informative to say, so it’s easily skippable.
“Oh, What a Night” to Remember: Another very brief featurette that features some background footage of the final dance sequence. There’s not much here either, so it’s not particularly worth watching.
Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys” sadly never comes to life the way the amazing music of The Four Seasons did, and still does to this very day. It’s missing a pulse, an emotional current to draw us into the group’s high points of being rich and famous and their low points of being on the brink of falling apart. When you hear their music, you can’t help but get pulled into the beat, the lyrics, and the infectious energy that explodes from every song, which should have been one of the main goals to strive for in such a film adaptation. Sadly what we end up with is a forgettable trip into the past that features some excellent tunes, but not much else of note.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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