It’s one of the most popular musicals of all time, but how does “Jersey Boys” do on the big screen?
The adaptation, which tells the story of the formation of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, has a bunch going for it. Oscar winner Clint Eastwood is the director, and its cast is full of big voices and big talent that Eastwood took a chance on. Plus, it has Christopher Walken, who we can only hope tells the Four Seasons that they need more cowbell.
But movie musicals, which reached an apex in the 2000s with the Oscar win and box office success of “Chicago,” have been on the decline, and it’s always risky trying to turn a popular stage musical into a movie (just see the flop of “The Producers”).
Still, “Jersey Boys” tells a classic rags-to-riches story, has a great soundtrack, and has a big talent at the director’s chair.
Should you say bye bye baby to “Jersey Boys,” or will it have you singing? Here’s what critics had to say about the film, which opens today (June 20).
A Strange Movie You Can Dance To
“’Jersey Boys’ is a strange movie, and it’s a Clint Eastwood enterprise, both reasons to see it. For those with a love of doo-wop, it also provides a toe-tapping, ear-worming stroll down rock ’n’ roll memory lane that dovetails with that deeply cherished American song and dance about personal triumph over adversity through hard work, tough times and self-sacrifice. It’s a redemption narrative that’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.” — Manhola Dargis, The New York Times
An Affordable Alternative To Broadway
“Overall though, fans of the play will be pleased. And for those that love the Four Seasons’ music but haven’t made it to the play, you can put your fear of missing out to rest. This is a much more affordable way to very nearly re-create the experience.” — Stephanie Merry, Washington Post
“An Easy Movie To Take”
“Full of genial showbiz cliches and mobbed-up sweeties, it’s an easy movie to take … It is also an uncertainly stylized one, with a drab sense of atmosphere at odds with the material’s punchy theatrics. Like the recent film version of ‘August: Osage County’ (now there’s a musical!), ‘Jersey Boys’ labors under a case of directorial miscasting, that of legendary filmmaker Clint Eastwood at the helm of a whiz-bang jukebox tuner.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
Risky Cast Pays Off
“Many of the cast members come from Broadway or touring ‘Jersey Boy’ productions — a risky choice by Eastwood but one that mostly pays off. Young, reprising his Tony Award-winning stage role as lead singer Frankie Valli (he of the voice so uncannily high it’s as if he’s being played at the wrong speed), has an entertainingly smart-mouthed ease on screen; opposite him, Bergen displays a quiet, low-key charm. Lomeda, though, needed to dial his performance down a few notches — his twitchy, sneery portrayal seemed pitched to the balcony seats. But they sing together beautifully, and you wish the movie would settle into the songs a bit; we hear a lot of excerpts but few complete musical numbers.” — Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times
A Story With Heart And Soul
“Clint Eastwood makes our day as the seemingly miscast director of ‘Jersey Boys,’ adding dramatic heft to this hit-filled, perfectly cast big-screen adaptation of the long-running Broadway musical … ‘Jersey Boys’ tells a familiar story, yes — but rarely told this well and with this much heart and soul.” — Lou Lumenick, New York Post