When a musical is adapted into a movie, two things can happen: the movie follows the musical to a tee, which is not always a good thing or, the movies tries to follow its own style while incorporating elements from the musical like the songs. Director Clint Eastwood takes the former approach. Did it work for this film? The answer is no.
The story is about how the popular 60s American band Four Seasons, made up of Tommy DeVito (played by Vincent Piazza), Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) , Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) rose to stardom and later disbanded. The actors can act and sing well and, this is delightful because the emotion and the hardships the Four Seasons went through are presented more convincingly than the 2012 movie adaptation of Les Miserables (another musical adapted into a movie) directed by Tom Hooper because in that, actors like Russell Crowe, famous as he is, could barely hold a note.
This brings me to my next point – the songs. The songs are very catchy and I walked away from the movie humming tunes like Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Oh What A Night and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (which interestingly enough was almost never made as the musical and movie explain) to name a few. In fact, some of the songs combined with the brilliant performances by the actors become so powerful that you’re left in tears when it is a sad song and when things get happy again, you tap your feet.
But the movie is not all sunshine and roses. In the Jersey Boys musical, each Four Seasons member would come in to narrate what is about to happen at various parts of the story. The movie takes the same approach, which does not seem to work because in the movie, the actors are not limited by the size of the stage and thus, this narration sometimes takes place while the characters are walking. This made me confused because at times I was not sure if the characters were talking to other people in the movie or to the audience. Worse still, the narration disappears completely halfway into the movie, which makes me wonder if Eastwood realized it was not working but did not bother to cut it from the first part of the movie?
Another problem is that the timeline the movie is set in is not established, apart from the start and end of the movie. There is a scene in particular where Valli is quarrelling with his wife and his young daughter. In the next scene, Valli walks out the door and his daughter is older, looking like she is in her teenage years. It is frustratingly confusing.
To sum it up, Eastwood has made a decent first attempt in directing a movie based on a musical. The songs are good, the actors are on par to act and sing those songs and by the end, you feel like standing up and clapping. What prevents me from giving this movie a perfect rating is the clumsy way of storytelling which worked in the musical but not the movie. This movie is worth watching for the acting and music though.