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Jersey Boys


Tamara and I have seen Jersey Boys on Broadway several times and again here with the touring company in Phoenix. It's a great show, full of energy, exciting staging and terrific music.

So why does the movie version of JERSEY BOYS land on the screen with such a thud?

You can't blame the cast.

Original Broadway cast members fill many of the roles, including Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young bringing Frankie Valli to the screen just as he did on Broadway, he's excellent.

The true story of Frankie and his friends becoming one of the most successful bands of all time is filled with conflict and tension and at least on stage, plenty of fun.

The band members are like a family, with all the conflict that can entail as their popularity grows but some of them can't quite shake the habits they formed growing up around the mob and petty crimes that escalate at the worst times.

The music is excellent. The first time we saw the play, I was amazed how many Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons songs I knew. Their musical legacy is deeply rooted in popular culture and some of the numbers are captured in all their early TV glory.

But where the play never stops moving, Director Clint Eastwood applies plenty of brakes, taking a lot of detours for quieter moments. The movie actually feels more stage-bound then the play did!

The characters address the screen to narrate the action from their point of view, and while this works live, it never rises above distracting on film.

I am a HUGE fan of Eastwood as a Director and think he is doing some of his most amazing work in the last decade (Hereafter, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers) but this was his second film in a row that bombed and seemed to find him in a creative rut after "J. Edgar". Thankfully he followed this up with his biggest hits and one of his finest films, "American Sniper".

If you've seen the play, I am betting you will find the movie as lifeless and disappointing as we did. If you haven't, my guess is it will be pretty entertaining, as this is still a great story.

But while it SUNG on stage, it just hums along here at a languid pace on dark sets in muted colors. Only the final four minutes gives you any indication of what the play felt like to experience in person. If ONLY Eastwood had invested that energy into the previous 130 minutes.....

We'll give it an off key C.

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