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Clint Eastwood
Cast:John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken, Michael Lomenda, Erich Bergen
Writing Credits:
Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice

Everybody remembers it how they need to.

The story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$13,319,371 on 2,905 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 11/11/2014

• “From Broadway to the Big Screen” Featurette
• “Too Good to Be True” Featurette
• “’Oh What a Night’ to Remember” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Jersey Boys [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 3, 2014)

While Hollywood continues to make movie musicals, the format fails to thrive. Exceptions exist, with the primary example coming from the smash Mamma Mia! in 2008.

However, more musicals end up like disappointments such as 2012’s Rock of Ages - or 2014’s Jersey Boys. Directed by a legend and based on the hit Broadway show, Boys didn’t really tank, but its $46 million gross didn’t turn it into a hit, either.

Boys takes us to Belleville, New Jersey circa 1951. Local mobster Gyp DeCarlo (Christopher Walken) takes a shine to 16-year-old Frankie Castelluccio (John Lloyd Young) and encourages him to develop his singing career. Between illegal shenanigans, Frankie’s pal Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) plays in a band – and he encourages Frankie to sing with them at one performance.

Despite Tommy’s legal complications, he eventually develops the band with Frankie as the lead vocalist. Now debubbed “Frankie Valli”, he slowly works on his career, though his attachment to the mean streets keeps him from much movement for a while.

Eventually Tommy hooks up the band with local songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) as a new member of the band and their musical career starts to percolate. However, as this occurs, Tommy feels his leadership undercut when Frankie and Bob start to take the band in different directions. We follow their path as they eventually become the Four Seasons and turn into chart-toppers.

When I first saw the trailer for Jersey Boys and the term “Directed by Clint Eastwood” appeared on-screen, my exact reaction was “wha-huh???” “Clint Eastwood” and “big-screen pop musical” don’t go together in my mind, and the notion that Eastwood would take the reins of this film perplexed me. I know Eastwood loves jazz, so when he directed 1988’s Bird, it made sense, but on the surface, Eastwood seemed like a bad fit for this project.

Now that I’ve seen Jersey Boys, I can find nothing to contradict my original belief that the producers should’ve found someone other than Eastwood to direct the film. Note that this doesn’t mean I find Boys to be a bad movie, as even at its worst, it remains watchable. The inherent intrigue created by the basic narrative and the peppiness of the music ensures that the flick stays at least moderately involving from start to finish.

That said, Eastwood’s take on the material robs it of virtually all of its energy. Eastwood demonstrates no feel for the music; indeed, he seems befuddled by the ways of the short pop tune, and he appears to have no idea how to present this material in a compelling manner.

This means that when the movie should pop and dazzle, it simply sits there. Boys needed the kind of approach Tom Hanks brought to 1996’s delightful That Thing You Do!, as he infused the movie with precisely the right vigor and pep that the project needed – and clearly understood the feel for that period in time.

I don’t think Boys should’ve been quite as light and “fable-like” as Thing, as its story gets into some darker places. Nonetheless, Boys could really use an antidote to its persistently glum feel. Sure, that’s fine when Eastwood confronts those more dramatic moments, but he treats the entire project like it’s a death row downer. Even when we should experience the joy of musical creation, the film stays sober and mopey – there’s just no sense of life anywhere on display.

The casting becomes an issue as well, though not due to the actual performances. Much of the cast also played their roles on stage, and they carry over their characters to the movie screen in a satisfying manner. The performers adapt their work for the different needs of the film process and do just fine.

Except damn, are they old! Much of the movie takes place when the characters are supposed to be in their teens or twenties, and it becomes virtually impossible to make that leap of faith. In the less literal world of the Broadway stage, the use of “wrong age” actors seems like less of an issue, but in a movie, it turns into a real problem.

Well, it does for me, at least, as the disconnect between the actors’ appearance and their stated ages creates a true distraction. This seems especially true when Gaudio enters the tale, as the movie doesn’t set up his age especially well. At least when we see 38-year-old John Lloyd Young as 16-year-old Frankie, the movie reminds us of his age repeatedly; we don’t buy Young as a kid less than half his age, but the warning makes it a little more “believable”. However, unless I missed it, we get no such alert that the 28-year-old Erich Bergen is supposed to be viewed as 17.

This means some parts of the movie just seem confusing, especially when the other characters treat Gaudio like a young kid. The contradiction of the grown man we see with the teen we’re intended to view creates serious head-scratching.

Even with a more age-appropriate cast, though, Jersey Boys would falter due to its odd direction. With a greater sense of life and energy behind it, the musical could’ve become a winner, but as it stands, the end result seems too moody and dark to fit the narrative well.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Jersey Boys appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a satisfactory image.

Overall sharpness looked good. A little softness occasionally affected wide shots, but those elements remained infrequent and minor, so the majority of the movie appeared well-defined. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to appear. Source flaws also remained absent across this clean presentation.

Boys used a limited palette that often accentuated greens. Additional hues materialized as the movie progressed, but these stayed low-key and stylized. Within those parameters, the colors seemed fine. Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows looked smooth and well-developed. No issues marred this positive presentation.

I also felt happy with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Jersey Boys, which provided a solid soundfield throughout the film. The forward environment appeared reasonably broad and engaging. Discrete audio filled the front three speakers with a good deal of appropriate activity, all of which brought the movie to life effectively.

The surrounds kicked in strong support information which bolstered the overall impression and made the audio nicely involving and realistic. Music dominated, so Boys lacked any truly “showy” moments, but the overall ambiance seemed solid.

Audio quality also was quite good. Speech was crisp and natural with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music seemed bright and clear and displayed strong dynamics. Effects sounded clean and packed a solid punch when necessary; the louder segments of Boys were strong and powerful without any signs of distortion. All in all, the track provided a well-rounded sonic image that suited the movie.

A few extras flesh out the set. From Broadway to the Big Screen runs 22 minutes, 57 seconds and provides notes from director/producer Clint Eastwood, producer Graham King, writer Rick Elice, music supervisor Ron Melrose, casting director Geoffrey Miclat, choreographer Sergio Trujillo, and actors John Lloyd Young, Mike Doyle, Vincent Piazza, Donnie Kehr, Christopher Walken, Erich Bergen, Renee Marino and Erica Piccininni. The featurette looks at the origins/development of the Broadway show as well as aspects of its movie adaptation. Breezy and engaging, this becomes a reasonably informative overview of significant aspects of the production.

Too Good to Be True goes for four minutes, 51 seconds and offers info from Kehr, Piccininni, Elice, Eastwood, Walken, King, editor Joel Cox and actor Michael Lomenda, “True” largely concentrates on Kehr’s background in the stage production and his work in the film. I’m not especially sure why Kehr gets a featurette almost entirely to himself, but it’s a decent glimpse at his side of Jersey Boys nonetheless.

Finally, the five-minute, five-second ’Oh What a Night’ to Remember features Eastwood, King, Trujillo, Doyle, Cox, Young, Marino, Piazza, Walken, and actor Joseph Russo. Here we get some notes on the musical number that ends the film. It seems mildly interesting but not great.

The disc opens with ads for The Judge and This Is Where I Leave You. No trailer for Boys appears here.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Jersey Boys. It includes the “’Oh What a Night’” featurette but lacks the other extras.

Curiously stiff and somber, Jersey Boys manages to maintain the viewer’s interest but not in a terrific manner. The story and music can only carry it so far, as the movie’s general listlessness prevents it from coming together. The Blu-ray presents very good picture and audio along with some moderately informative bonus materials. Jersey Boys doesn’t flop but it fails to bring the musical to the screen in a truly satisfying manner.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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