Before seeing this film, I had to do some quick calculations. Yep, as it turns out I have seen the stage show of 'Jersey Boys' approximately 250-300 times. Now before you go reaching for your “crazy button”, I will put it into some context. I worked for the theatre for the stage show’s Sydney season. So who better to see the film adaptation than someone who basically knows the show inside and out?
'Jersey Boys' follows the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, on their rise from the mob-run streets of New Jersey to superstardom and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The word that floated around my head for most of 'Jersey Boys' was "muted". There was a decision to completely desaturate the entire film - no colour was allowed to be too strong - with the desaturation stretching into the score. It was unfortunate that this muted nature really took away from the punchy and dynamic nature of the stage show. I know they are two very different forms of entertainment, but when a show has been seen by so many people and in so many countries it is almost impossible not to compare the two.
To cast original Broadway cast members in roles might not have been the right choice; yes, they definitely had the voices, but it was almost as if they had been directed to pull their performances back, way back! Some of what makes 'Jersey Boys' work so well on stage is its extreme pace, clever script and moments of fantastic comedy, but this pace is gone and the comedy falls flat - it might have been why the scenes written for the film (and not directly translated from the show) worked so much better. It has taken this form being a musical to being a film about a band - which some may argue is the perfect way to do 'Jersey Boys', but if this was the line that was being taken, there should have been more emphasis on the music.
Clint Eastwood might have been the wrong choice to direct this film - filling it with pathos and not quite understanding the comedy is definitely what lets this movie down. Also they cut out my favourite song 'Beggin', which left me doing just that. After seeing 'Jersey Boys' I was left with only one desire - a desire I thought I would not have for a long time - to see the stage show again and remember how great it was, even for the 301st time.
RUN TIME: 02h 14m