Any big movie that features an emotional crescendo at Detroit’s Roosertail can’t be too bad. Right?
If only that were true.
Sadly, despite a climatic scene at the iconic Detroit club, Clint Eastwood’s new movie musical ‘Jersey Boys’ misses the mark.
Pretty much everything you need to know about why this movie is such a mess, comes from Clint Eastwood's direction.
He’s 84 years old. He’s best known for starring in westerns. And directing dark, depressing (albeit critically acclaimed) films like ‘Unforgiven’ and ‘Mystic River’. Not to mention classics like, ‘Space Cowboys’.
Yes, he is a multi-Oscar winner. Yes, is a film icon. But Bob Fosse, he is not.
It’s hard to even call this film a musical. The singing didn’t even begin until about an hour into the movie. Until then, it was endless back-story, filled with endless clichés about Italians from New Jersey and the mob.
I kept waiting for the big song and dance numbers. That’s what the ads and the posters promised--a big Broadway musical, on film. But this wasn’t ‘Dreamgirls’.
Instead 'Jersey Boys' was a confusing, amateurish film about a group of friends who could never seem to get their act together.
That’s where the real confusion set in. This was supposed to be a movie about the great Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. They have some of the biggest hits in music history; ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘Working My Way Back To You’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, and my personal favorite, ‘December, 1963’.
And yet this film dwells relentlessly on their personal failures. They’re always fighting and getting arrested. And they can’t even scrape enough money together to bail each other out. Did they not get music royalties back in those days?
The story is all over the place. One minute Frankie is happily married, the next minute his wife is a raging alcoholic. I could never figure out what was going on.
Which brings me to my biggest pet peeve: why does every movie now feel the need to have their main characters suddenly turn and start talking to the camera?
I don’t know if Steve Carell or Kevin Spacey is to blame, but the convention is overdone and tired. The breaking fourth-wall device was used to an obnoxious degree in this film. You’d think some young, first-time director was trying to do something hip, but it's surprising to find Clint Eastwood behind this gimmick.
A singing group as iconic as the Four Seasons, with such great music, deserved better than this.
Two highlights for me;: Both scenes where Detroit plays a pivotal role in the plot.
The city acts as good and bad bookends for the group’s ultimate fate. The bad involves a female reporter from Detroit who we’re led to believe captured the hearts of multiple members of the group, thus causing serious friction.
The good involves Frankie’s triumphant comeback, at the aforementioned Roostertail.
Bottom line, this movie just doesn’t work. Wait for it to come to Netflix or On Demand, and fast forward to the fun ‘curtain-call’ at the very end. And if you’re looking for a real movie musical… watch ‘Grease’ and enjoy a real Frankie Valli hit.