For The Love Of Music
Stars: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken, Rob Marnell, Miles Aubrey, Erich Bergen, Kathrine Narducci, Donnie Kehr, Mike Doyle and Freya Tingley
Director: Clint Eastwood
Scriptwriters: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice based on the play
Songs and Lyrics: Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe
Malposa Productions/Warner Brothers
Rating: R for language and themed material
Running Length: 134 Minutes
The movie Jersey Boys is adapted from the musical stage play of the same name by writers Marshall Brickman and Rock Elice. Theme of the film is the life and career of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from teenage garage singers, to top of the charts, Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand. The Four Seasons had their own song writer, Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen). Bob Crewe (Mike Doyle) took a chance on a record contract on them, and the band began making one hit after another. Careers like this look easy because the group makes it look easy. Behind the microphones is another life and that's what you find here. Who your friends really are, family should come first, don't borrow money and when you are on stage, it is all for the love of music. There is plenty of humor in this movie as we see the band members mature and how they handle fame.
The film opens with a band called by many names, "The Lovers," etc. and led by Tommy (Vincent Piazza.) He seems to have a good heart, especially toward his young friend, Frankie (John Lloyd Young in a stellar role and he won a Tony for it). The band is fairly good, and when they need a lead singer in a hurry, Tommy asks Frankie to sing. With his unique falsetto voice (very high range), he is an instant success and they get a new name. It doesn't take long to get a record contract and new songs, provided by the newcomer, Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen.) The hits come rolling in such as "Cry For Me," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like A Man," "My Eyes Adored You," Dawn," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Working My Way Back To You." Your feet may be dancing by this time.
Though the band has success in their music, their personal lives are something else, with money borrowing, plenty of women, family problems and even mob-related problems. Christopher Walken is Gyp DeCarlo, who likes Frankie's singing so much, DeCarlo becomes a mentor to him and the band. This comes in handy. There always seems to be money problems as the group rises in the music charts and then we see why. The film covers about 30 years of their lives, concentrating on their beginnings and later.
What makes and breaks a talented group is the desire to make music and fulfill that creative instinct inside, no matter what...and the situations created when one marries and family obligations fight for first place instead of the music. This is aptly shown in Jersey Boys. Feeling alive on a stage with what you have to give to the world, and having musicians with you who anticipate your moves and are in sync is a rare gift. It is difficult to let go and come off that stage and this is the predicament faced by The Four Seasons.
Acting is well done, especially John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli and Vincent Piazza as his secretive friend Tommy DeVito who fostered Frankie's singing talent. The rest are along for the ride. Jersey Boys was a Broadway show, so it is designed in sets or scenes. It is sometimes hard to follow the progression of years, as when one band member gets married and the next instant has three children. The cast is large, perhaps too large, because you don't get to know anyone. The band performs their songs, then it is on the road, another group discussion, on the road...with family life but a dot on the horizon. Jersey Boys shows us this and you may tire of the traveling parts, but when the music begins, it's OK.
Copyright 2014 Marie Asner
For more reviews of musical films, see the following
Rio 2 (animated)