A hard act to fol­low

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch


Stars: John Lloyd Young, Vin­cent Pi­azza, Michael Lomenda, Erich Ber­gen, Christo­pher Walken

Di­rec­tor: Clint East­wood ( Mil­lion Dol­lar Baby)

POW­ERED by the ir­re­sistibly catchy back cat­a­logue of ’ 60s pop su­per­stars Frankie Valli and the Four Sea­sons – whose colourful ca­reer is charted here – Jersey Boys is very much a crowd- pleas­ing juke­box mu­si­cal.

How­ever, this well- crafted screen adap­ta­tion is not about to let the hits ( Sherry, Oh What a

Night, Big Girls Don’t Cry, etc.) do all the heavy lift­ing, al­low­ing the sto­ry­telling to get off lightly.

Un­der the watch­ful eye of di­rec­tor Clint East­wood, Jersey Boys steadily goes about earn­ing its au­di­ence’s re­spect the hard way – and the right way.

Just like the stage ver­sion, the screen­play traces a fa­mil­iar arc of rags- to- riches- to- ruc­tions, one that has been ex­pe­ri­enced by many a suc­cess­ful group across the his­tory of pop­u­lar mu­sic.

East­wood fresh­ens up the tale by fo­cus­ing on how the group’s smooth sound was achieved in di­rect con­trast to the rough- and- tum­ble na­ture of their per­sonal lives.

It all goes back to the for­ma­tive days of the Four Sea­sons on the mean streets of New Jersey in the late 1950s.

Three mem­bers of the quar­tet could eas­ily have missed their shot at the big time had they stuck with their sec­ond jobs as small- time crooks.

Frankie Valli ( John Lloyd Young) might have had the voice of an an­gel, but he ran with a dev­il­ish crowd.

Band­mates Tommy DeVito ( Vin­cent Pi­azza) and Nick Massi ( Michael Lomenda) both did jail time for mi­nor felonies, and Valli went close to join­ing them on more than one oc­ca­sion.

It was only with the re­luc­tant re­cruit­ment of clean- liv­ing song­writer and ar­ranger Bob Gau­dio ( Erich Ber­gen) that the Four Sea­sons fi nally got their act to­gether.

In fact, suc­cess came rel­a­tively quickly to the outfi t, largely due to the rare alchemy of Valli’s un­worldly falsetto paired with Gau­dio’s killer melodies.

How­ever, no mat­ter how rosy the fu­ture did of­ten look for the Four Sea­sons, their past trou­bles al­ways threat­ened to drag them back to square one.

In spite of a largely un­known cast – many of whom were re­cruited from past stage in­car­na­tions of Jersey Boys – this fi lm clicks into place very quickly, and rarely looks like com­ing apart.

The song se­quences are ex­pertly placed and well per­formed through­out, and al­though the script can some­times get a lit­tle corny, there is a know­ing edge to the fi lm’s sense of hu­mour that in­vari­ably rec­tifi es the sit­u­a­tion.

Many of the best non- mu­si­cal mo­ments land in the lap of the great Christo­pher Walken, play­ing a vet­eran mob­ster who ten­derly men­tors Frankie and the boys when times are tough.

Now show­ing State and Vil­lage cin­e­mas

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.