Friday, April 24, 2015

Jersey Boys (2014)

Based on the careers of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Director: Clint Eastwood


Frankie Valli- John Lloyd Young
Tommy DeVito- Vincent Piazza
Nick Massi- Michael Lomenda
Bob Gaudio- Erich Bergen
Bob Crewe- Mike Doyle

Gyp DeCarlo- Christopher Walken
Frankie's first wife, Mary- ReneƩ Marino
Francine Valli, Frankie's youngest daughter- Grace Kelley (4)/Elizabeth Hunter (7)/Freya Tingley (17)


Introduction... to Jersey Boys and their music

This was one of those Broadway shows I'd heard about from other people. People saying how much they enjoyed it and would recommend. The first I heard of it, I think I was in 10th grade. I'd wanted to see it on hype alone and seeing the movie sold me... but unless it's disappearing completely from Broadway, I'm not in a huge rush about it. We only just went to see "Les Miz" so having a gap between musicals is no big deal.
Hopefully in a couple years, it won't be raining in New York like it has these past couple times...

My familiarity with Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons beforehand was minimal at best. The first time I saw Frankie Valli was his "Full House" cameo

I tell ya, after seeing the movie, had he been 60 years younger... #Swoon

"Oh, What a Night!" was probably the only other song I was familiar with for the longest time... then "Walk like a Man" walked its way into my heart as my favorite song by the group in an underrated RDJ comedy, "Heart & Souls"

watching this again, I was about to say the Jersey Boys were so much... then RDJ finally came in with a great bass part in the final 30 seconds of footage.
[short synopsis: he has to help four ghosts complete their unfinished business]

Early Casting News

I was especially excited when they announced this movie because Jon Favreau was going to be the director and Dominic Cooper was being considered for one of the roles.

Then later, Clint Eastwood took over the directing, which had me concerned the movie [based on what appears to be a fun show] would be too serious. And the fact I didn't recognize any of the actors that they cast was another cause for concern.

As it turns out, I have nothing to worry about. Sure, I'd miss seeing Dominic Cooper [I bet he would have been cast as Tommy DeVito and killed it], but I wouldn't change any of these casting choices for a second.
It'd be like making substitutions in the core cast of The Breakfast Club... just wouldn't work as well, that chemistry.

"Oh, What a Night!"On our Norweigen Cruise, in addition to "Rock of Ages," they were showing a Four Seasons tribute under this name.
The guys all had great voices and looked great. My one nit-pick was that one of them was blonde and therefore didn't quite fit in. I almost wanted a CD of theirs afterwards... then I remembered that the real thing is way better.

Lots of fun covering all those songs with some LOL moments...

Some Thoughts...

Unlike many other Broadway musicals adapted from a band/group's discography, "Jersey Boys" was actually based on the lives of these guys. Immediately after seeing the movie, my thoughts were how much of it was biographical and how much was Hollywood.
[tread lightly, some spoilers in the movie are attached in this article as well as the rest of this entry... and just for the sake of argument, I will continue forward talking about the movie, not about the actual people it's been upon]

Originally, the group was called The Three Lovers, which apparently was one of a dozen name changes it went through before fate gave them "Four Seasons" [even without reading into it, The Three/Four Lovers is such a STUPID name- no wonder it didn't happen for them for a while].

Frankie's friends, Tommy and Nick DeVito and Nick Massi formed the group and he would occasionally sing lead with them. The DeVito brothers were involved in some shady stuff that gave them lengthy rap sheets, prompting Nick to say the music thing probably wouldn't happen for him, giving Frankie his spot in group permanently.

But with a voice like that, how it affected everyone in the room, it's surprising this conclusion wasn't drawn sooner. Before we even hear that famous falsetto, Frankie drew me in... charisma and raw natural talent.
[Anyone who can make Christopher Walken cry with their voice... that's powerful stuff]

Much of the movie was about how the group came together (Bob Gaudio, who co-wrote almost all the hits, was introduced to them via Joe Pesci- yeah, the actor, albeit a younger version) and skyrocketed to stardom... but had some bumps along the way.
Namely, Tommy DeVito's outrageous debt [Frankie had to have been an ANGEL to forgive him AND pay it himself] and Frankie's rocky personal life with his wife Mary and daughter Francine (the other two daughters, we see briefly and get no lines at all).

The movie did the music justice and the music was used tastefully whenever it was incorporated- whether they were performing them or they were playing the background. A little cheesy, yes, but I loved how they put the first three hits into the movie.
"Sherry" was randomly written by Bob on the way to meeting the guys to call Bob Crewe, their record producer. "Big Girls Don't Cry" was randomly said while the guys were watching a Clint Eastwood movie.
I especially loved the conversation where one of the guys asked what it meant to "walk like a man"... hilarious-- by that point, I was still getting over the fact they included my favorite Four Seasons track in the movie.

More Spoilers...

The only negative I can derive from any point of the movie was when they explained Tommy's debt situation. The guys arrive at the Ed Sullivan show with a debt collector waiting for them backstage. We then proceed to spend 10 minutes of flashbacks... it just gets a little tedious and convoluted after a while, hard to really follow.

But the end result is Frankie taking on the debt, Tommy being shipped off to Vegas [per Gyp's suggestion- he helped mediate this meeting] and Nick finally makes good on his word that he's quitting the group [he says a version of this at least three times throughout the movie].
This is when Frankie starts doing some solo shows.

Another emotional turn happens when Francine, who had been pursuing a similar musical career, dies.
I saw this movie twice within a week because on the premiere night on HBO, I fell asleep around this point [not cuz of boredom, my work schedule]. I woke up within the last 10 minutes plus the credits. My mom mentions something about her dying and I literally gasp "she died?"

Imagine that impact if I'd stayed awake and saw that moment when Frankie got the news transpire...

Major kudos to John Lloyd Young's acting here [there's a reason why he was recruited right from the Broadway show of the same name and it wasn't just his voice]... I felt every emotion he went through. Hearing Bob Gaudio talking to him in the diner, saying how he was so heartbroken by this that it was killing him.. got me right in the heart.

And of course the one song that brings him out of his state was "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." Bob gave him the sheet music in the diner to look at and hours later, Frankie gives him a call to explain what was missing from the song.
Truly a magical movie moment.

The next scene I was fully conscious for was the final one: when the guys reunite for the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame induction. They perform "Who Loves You" (probably my least favorite of their songs, actually), each break the fourth wall one final time, and the credits roll like a curtain call.

One of my favorite elements of this movie was the 4th wall-breaking. The guys giving us an inside look into what's going on behind the scenes, where their heads were at and such. Those unfamiliar with the show like I was would appreciate that inside information in case something wasn't clear.
Not surprisingly, Frankie doesn't get a chance to do this until the RnR HoF performance... it just makes it all the more special that he didn't address us, the audience, until the near end of the movie.

Then the credits... it starts with (as Frankie explained in his bit) the four guys singing together under the street lamp and they break into "Oh, What a Night." All the actors come out for one final bit of screen time, the guys smile to the camera and perform.

I was fighting back tears both times... the first because I'd missed a big chunk of the movie... the second time, I was very happy to finally see the whole movie, and I was sad to see it end. Ugh, I hope I'm not gonna be like that with musicals from this point.
The only one I hadn't lost it during was "My Fair Lady" (I did plenty of that when our high school did it, though).

It was such a great pay-off moment. Not just to hear this song, but to see everyone one final time.

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