This is the story of how 3 men from New Jersey came together to form a band that would later go on to become an iconic 1960s rock group. Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) is a young kid on the block who is taken under the wing of low-level wiseguy Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza). He has a band and they convince Frankie to join, what with his unmistakable voice. Later on, Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) joins and they play in bars and clubs across town whilst struggling to establish themselves. The group meet up with writer/performer Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), who is the final piece in their quest to become musical legends under the guidance of producer Bob Crewe – The Four Seasons.
It’s easy to forget just how important Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were to the history of Rock and Roll. Their music was unique and sold in the millions, with their unmistakable sound paving the way for many who came after them. Producing hit and hit and transcending singular genres, Frankie Valli and the group were as big as they come so a bio-pic of their life story seems long overdue.
After the book inspired the global hit musical, a film adaptation always seemed likely. Less likely was the man who stepped up to direct and produce the movie – screen icon Clint Eastwood. With over 33 directorial projects under his belt, Eastwood knows how to make a good-looking film and gives Jersey Boys as broad a platform as possible to shine.
The cast are all superb with John Lloyd Young doing exceptionally well filling the boots of legend Frankie Valli. Bob Gaudio is faithfully portrayed by the brilliant Erich Bergen and he is a joy to watch. Vincent Piazza, who frequently steals Boardwalk Empire, is a revelation and steals every one of his scenes in Jersey Boys too. His wiseguy charm and buckets of natural charisma help Piazza nail his role as Tommy DeVito, a character who is frequently at the heart of everything good the film has to offer. Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken and Mike Doyle also impress in their roles.
The music is why we are all here though and the quartet really comes into their own during these moments. It’s remarkable just how many unmistakable hits the band had, with classics like Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man and the films best musical number I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You all getting their due respect. The music is used effectively in the film and frames the drama well, with all four lead-actors doing their roles justice.
Jersey Boys is a well made film and will certainly entertain you for large parts. However the runtime is just a bit too long and by glossing over big events in Valli’s life (like the birth of his daughters), we never seem to get a complete picture. Perhaps scaling down the timeframe and focusing on a specific period in their lives would have benefited this film a lot. It’s also a shame that at times, this feels like a TV movie of the week, especially when it comes to ageing Frankie and the band (bear in mind that the same actors play their roles from 16-18 year olds all the way through to their 60s). But that notwithstanding, Jersey Boys still keeps you interested and the music is worth the admission price alone.