Thursday, December 18, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: JERSEY BOYS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I was never much of a Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons fan. I never saw the musical Jersey Boys on stage. I didn't know if I would like the movie. But I did, I really did. Now--much to Willy Dunne Wooters' delight--I can't stop singing "Willy, Willy baby, Willy, Willy baby, Willy, can you come out tonight? Why don't you come out with your red dress on?" I guess it might be irritating the one thousandth time.

I like Jersey Boys so much that I watched the DVD twice before reluctantly mailing it back to my dear friends at Netflix (2014, Rated R, Available On DVD, Directed by Clint Eastwood).


I like many aspects of Jersey Boys in addition to the music. The strong focus on the relationships between the original Four Seasons is interesting because even when they reached the point when some of them couldn't stand other members of the group, they took care of each other because it's the code of their neighborhood, the code of their Italian background, and the code of the mob. Yes, they had ties to organized crime--something I didn't know.

Frankie (John Lloyd Young) is out with a woman who asks, Why do you have a girlfriend when you have a wife? He answers that family is everything. That's the key to this movie. It's not just family as in the people to whom one is related. Family is a broader and more meaningful term. One could also say that three of the Four Seasons are stereotypical Italian men.

I didn't know most of what's in the movie about this unique group of young men. I did my research and learned very little of it is not true.

Stuff I like:

  • The main characters take turns narrating the movie. One of the Four Seasons might turn to the camera and break the fourth wall to add narration in the middle of a song.
  • Three of the four actors who play the members of the group played their parts on Broadway.
  • All the actors are good. I'm not a Christopher Walken fan, but he's better than usual as a mob boss.
  • The actors sang live. No problems with matching recordings to the movement of their mouths. 
  • The movie has a great finale that made me feel as if I were watching the show on stage.
As much as I enjoyed Jersey Boys, I don't see it as a movie that will get a lot of Academy Award nominations. Maybe Vincent Piazza will get a best supporting actor nomination for playing Tommy DeVito. He's perfect in his role. He's the only "member" of the group who didn't appear in the stage version. It seems Clint Eastwood was wise in his casting choice.

John Lloyd Young won a Tony award, but I'll be surprised if he's nominated by the Academy.

This movie has a lot of profanity and extra-curricular activities that you don't want your children to see. Perhaps older teens who want to learn more about the history of music will join you for Jersey Boys, which has The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. Willy Dunne Wooters didn't rate the movie. He said, "I liked that. It was good."









Don't you want to sing along? Frankie can hit some notes higher than I sing, and I'm a first soprano.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug




45 comments:

  1. Hi Janie .. I've never seen the Jersey Boys either .. I guess I shall catch up with films at some stage in my life .. I did like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons though .. good to read your take on it though .. and am glad you had a happy time watching .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although the movie has some sad scenes, I found that it helped me relax.

      Delete
  2. The Four Seasons? Never heard of 'em!

    Hello, Janie Junebug! Mrs. Shady and I discovered this movie on NetFlix a while back and we were planning to watch it. When it comes to tribute acts I am hard to please because I am often very familiar with the nuances of the original performers. The clip you included here does not "sell" the movie to me, Remember the TV series American Dreams, NBC's misguided attempt to portray family life, pop culture and music of the mid 60s? They cast millennial hip hop artists as music stars of yesteryear. It didn't work. In fact it was insulting. Remember The Playboy Club, another pathetic project that tried to bring back the period by enlisting modern singers to imitate famous music acts of the period? Most people who make movies like these don't have a clue and it infuriates me. The Beach Boys movie I keep telling you about used the original recordings in the soundtrack. The lip sync was tight and the stage performances incredibly authentic. That's what I'm talking about! Based on your review I will give Jersey Boys a try but will keep expectations low.

    Happy Thursday, dear Janie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The actors in this movie are not a tribute band. It's a movie with actors who tell a story. Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudier were two of the producers, and Frankie was involved in casting and has been involved with the Broadway musical from the beginning. Perhaps I find the performances excellent because I'm so much younger than you are. When the Four Seasons were on The Ed Sullivan Show, I was in my crib, playing with my toes, and the only music I knew was what burst forth from our piano. I have never seen American Dreams. Is The Playboy Club a TV show? I'm afraid you spend too much time watching the telly, Sir Shady. Relax and accept Jersey Boys for what it is and not what you want it to be.

      Delete
  3. What if you aggressively dislike the music of the Four Seasons, can you still enjoy the movie? When I hear "Big Girls Don't Cry" it makes me want to break things. Just seeing the YouTube clip up there, not even clicking on it, seeing it, I had the urge to throw something. I don't know why, either. Maybe I was molested and this was the soundtrack and I've just suppressed it all.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are a first soprano? Kudos to you, as I sing alto. We did see the stage version of Jersey boys and it really was delightful. I'll check out the movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The world needs altos more than it needs sopranos. When I'm asked to start a song because accompaniment is not available, everyone complains, That's too high!

      Delete
  5. All the singers and groups of my era had interesting stories and backgrounds. The music also had personality and meaning. Not like the noise of today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have a favorite band from earlier times, Coffey?

      Delete
  6. You write such good reviews and make me feel like I need to sign up for Netflix or something. Glad you enjoyed this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Netflix is reasonably priced and most of the time their service is excellent.

      Delete
  7. I've heard good things about this movie but have yet to see it. On your recommendation, now I probably will see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you like it. If you don't, then shut the hell up and don't try to ruin my good time.

      Delete
  8. It's not a film I would probably like, but then again, I didn't expect to enjoy Walk the Line as much as I did. So I might have to ask NetFlix to send me that copy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I, too, was surprised by Walk The Line. I became interested in Johnny Cash because of it. I sometimes play his greatest hits CD, and I've watched some documentaries about Johnny and June.

      Delete
  9. I really didn't hit a popular musical stride until later, but I do remember my Mom and her friend learning to dance the twist. (I was still into church music. Don't ask) I guess my favorite Italians were Perry Como and Frankie Avalon(!) At least I think they both were.
    Haven't seen the movie or the stage production - but I might see it now!!! Thanks, Robin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frankie Avalon was soooooo hot. I hope he hasn't messed up his looks by getting a face lift or something. Robin? Who is Robin, and why do you thank her?

      Delete
  10. This is on my "to see" list. I wanted to see it when it came through the movie theatres but didn't get to it, alas. Good to know you think highly of it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanted to see the musical in Chicago, but X wouldn't let me go. Enjoying the movie helps make up for what I missed because of him. I know it seems silly for an adult to say, He wouldn't let me, but it wasn't a good situation and he had control of the money, a great deal of which he lost gambling.

      Delete
  11. I'm gonna have to check that one out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have fun, Stephanola! I didn't realize the Four Seasons had so many hits.

      Delete
  12. Thanks for the review, but I don't think I will rent this movie. I did rent Saving Mr. Banks and just spent five minutes looking for your review.I thought the back story was really really sad. Emma T. was amazing. Loved her feet when she finally got into it. Loved Polly at the end...you can pour your own tea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a search box at the top of the page. If you put in Saving Mr. Banks, then I think the review would pop up because I've started putting the movie titles in my post title.

      Delete
  13. I'm so sorry, Janie. I was headed to Robin's blog next. She does funny TV clips. I feel so small... and stupid... self-abasement... now, that's better.
    Thank you, Janie!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the info on this movie, Janie. I've been wondering about it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yessum, I failed to make that clear. American Dreams and The Playboy Club were both NBC television series set in the early to mid 60s. Dreams lasted two full seasons and part of a third before the network pulled the plug and Playboy was canceled after only three episodes aired. It seems impossible for any actor or singer to replicate Frankie Valli's charisma. However, I promise to keep an open mind and make every effort to enjoy the movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think John Lloyd Young tries to replicate Frankie Valli. He simply plays the part and does so very well. I find Young's voice sweeter and more pure than Valli's. Perhaps he had a lot of training. Frankie Valli's voice is more raw and emotional. When I lamented the loss of Faulkner and said that Franklin was quite different, my wise friend Carol said to me, Franklin is Franklin and Faulkner is Faulkner. John Lloyd Young is John Lloyd Young and Frankie Valli is Frankie Vallie. There will never be another Frankie Valli. Frankie Valli is eighty, and I think he still performs.

      Delete
  16. The Jersey Boys sounds like a movie I'd like. In general, it doesn't take much to talk me into a musical anyhow - even a bad one - but the Janie Seal of Approval has proven to be pretty accurate.

    Frankie Valli was never a favorite of mine when he was actually in the Top 20, though my Dad loved him. The falsetto or soprano (what do you call that?) never did a thing for me but I've found myself going back and revisiting some of the those groups that are now considered icons and giving them another try.

    I'll give Frankie and how ever many seasons available a whirl! Thanks, Janie!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy musicals, too. I love Dream Girls and Chicago and all the old musicals with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire and other big stars who will never be replaced.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, I forgot to answer your question. It's a falsetto. Frankie had an unusually strong falsetto. Perhaps it was because his voice was a bit high pitched anyway.

      Delete
  17. I wish I'd seen Jersey Boys when it was in Adelaide - the first or second time. The director of The Godfather talks about how that story is about family rather than the mob.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Family is the overarching theme, but the mob is involved, too.

      Delete
  18. I'll give this one a watched. I loved the four seasons.
    R

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the musical. I think the real Frankie's voice grates after a while.

      Delete
  19. I remember all those songs on the radio--and, yes, you sang along! The guys from the movie do sound pretty darn good. It's hard to sound like Frankie. I am waiting to watch it on Netflix.
    I got switched about where they needed me the short time I was in choir in high school--from first soprano to alto, as I recall. I was tested for being able to hear perfect pitch, but I don't know if that means I can sing in perfect pitch--ROFL! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you have perfect pitch, then you should be able to hit a note accurately. Were you comfortable singing alto? It's too low for me.

      Delete
  20. This looks like something that Den would love. And if it has your highest stamp of approval then its a go!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Janie,
    I swear, sometimes I think you read my mind. :) I was just asking a friend about Jersey Boys this week and she too recommended it. I gave my parents Broadway tickets a few years ago to see the show and they raved about it. I'll be renting it this weekend. Thanks for another great review. Happy viewing and hope you and WWD have a great weekend. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm reading your mind right now and you should be ashamed of yourself!

      Delete

Got your panties in a bunch? Dig 'em out, get comfortable, and let's chat.