Reel Reviews: Jersey Boys should stop talking and sing

John Lloyd Young is Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys.  - Warner Bros.
John Lloyd Young is Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys.
— image credit: Warner Bros.

Jersey Boys relays the interpersonal story of how four friends from the wrong side of the tracks managed to break out of New Jersey to become the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singing act, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

We say, “The songs are doo-wop, the film is don’t-wop.”

HOWE: Based on the long running musical, Jersey Boys the movie feels like a stage production. Near the beginning of the film, the boys are attempting to steal a safe in a street scene that appears to filmed on a set. After that, the scenes are simple settings and with the actors taking turns addressing the camera and audience to tell their side of the story, it feels quite like the musical.

TAYLOR: There’s nothing lazier in a film than having your characters tell you the story rather than show you the story. Occasionally, you need narration, but really only in a situation where demonstrative story telling is impossible or when the narration itself fits the film’s style.

Having said that, I think if Jersey Boys didn’t have characters explaining things, they would have to make it a three hour movie, which would prove still more enervating. However, most of the explanation in this film is superfluous, telling us things we already know as they take place in the film. We know Tommy (the founder of the group) is a jerk. We know these young men have a New Jersey ‘50s gangster attitude. What we don’t know is why. This missing backstory could have been explained to us and I might have accepted that. Instead this feels like a film that attempts to be cooler than it is. Also, there’s absolutely nothing original in this story: all music groups go through difficulties. Life on the road is always tough. Managers always take what they can from you. Gangsters are gangsters and egos are egos.

HOWE: The best thing about the Jersey Boys movie is the music, even though I don’t think Frankie Valli had a great voice. (Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole had far superior voices in my opinion.) You can’t help but let your foot tap along to the tunes. If you are a fan of his and haven’t seen the stage show this will do nicely, just don’t expect the best of acting from the cast. Saying that, all the hits are there from Sherry to Can’t take My Eyes Off You and the cost of seeing him on the big screen is cheaper than seeing him in concert.

– Howe gives Jersey Boys 3 phone auditions out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 2 shattered glasses out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C.

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