My favorite journalism professor from my undergraduate years always told his classes, “Every great story has a Detroit connection.” This is true of the tale of Frankie Valli’s rise to fame, which has now been chronicled on the big screen in Jersey Boys, adapted from the hit Broadway musical.
From his beginnings as barber shop assistant Frankie Castellucio in New Jersey to his meteoric rise alongside bandmates Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio, Jersey Boys tells the story of Frankie Valli’s life and career.
Two pivotal moments for Valli occur in Detroit: an interview which leads to tension between himself and Tommy, and a comeback solo performance at the Roostertail.
Jersey Boys was directed by Clint Eastwood. The script was written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and the film was produced by Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio.
This film has had mixed reviews from critics, but I enjoyed it a lot. I did think that it started out a bit slow, but it becomes more engrossing as it moves along — as the career of The Four Seasons grows and their lives become more complicated. And even in the slightly slow beginning, I was drawn in by the nicely-constructed costumes and sets.
The music is very well done, with the exception of “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels, the only number that stood out to me as sounding nothing like the original. John Lloyd Young has a great voice and is successful in emulating Valli’s unique vocal style, so all of the songs performed by the faux-Four Seasons are wonderful.
The non-musical performances are generally quite good as well. The strongest player is definitely Vincent Piazza, the only member of the central cast of four not to have played the same character on the stage. His performance as Tommy DeVito is truly captivating, and since he narrates a good chunk of the story he is a great asset to the film.
Another thing I loved about this film was all of the fourth wall breakage. It gives the viewer the opportunity to see the story from multiple perspectives and gain internal insight from the different characters.
Jersey Boys does a good job of providing an overview of Frankie Valli’s life and career, which should come as no surprise considering the involvement of himself and one of his bandmates in the film as producers. I haven’t seen the stage version so I can’t compare the two, but I had a great time watching this movie and would watch it again.