Jersey Boys (Clint Eastwood, 2014)

An insipid biopic unworthy of its source inspiration’s good name, Jersey Boys is director Clint Eastwood’s go with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ inception, rise to fame and eventual falling out. Spanning the literal entirety of their legacy, the film dully bounces from one era to the next as we’re gleefully serenaded with the group’s most popular musical numbers. As shown through partially effective behind-the-scenes tidbits, the titular focal points’ clashing egos and personal demons are to blame as the four-piece, pre-Beatles sensation falls victim to circumstantial misfortune.

First and foremost, I won’t lie to you – I’m not an avid Broadway enthusiast. Having only seen an off-Broadway production of Stomp some years ago, I’ve come to terms with my subsequent inexperience with stage productions, even as I attempt to dissect this sub-par translation from source to screen. This in mind, it’s no surprise that said productions carry with them a sustained level of talent and vivacity, of which benchmark long-standing heavy hitters in the vein of Hairspray, Rock of Ages and so on. In the case of the latter’s 2012-released atrocity, anyone can wear a wig, don a leather vest and lip-sync a fucking Whitesnake song, however Broadway takes pride in the aforementioned talent on display.

In the case of Jersey Boys, the proceedings rarely resonate beyond the fan service-heavy employment of its subject’s music. In other words, if you like Frankie Valli, you’ll like what you see, even if “The show was better!” are the first words out of your mouth should they apply to you. Much like Rock of Ages, it’s rare to witness something so bloated and one-track-minded in this day and age but, needless to say, I haven’t seen the latest high-grossing Transformers debacle. Harsh and perhaps unfair, but true nonetheless.

Even despite the apt presentation of decade-specific aesthetics and factoids, Jersey Boys‘ appeal is directly proportionate to how loudly you snap your fingers along with “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” It’s astonishing to witness how safe Eastwood plays it here, what with traditional and lifeless biopic tropes playing out like a bland, long-running television serial. It has its charm, however the bulk of an overlong run time seems to merely aim to pin a large budget to a familiar and familiarly popular inspiration.

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