“A voice like yours — it’s a gift from God,” says mob boss Gyp DeCarlo (Christopher Walken). “The world is gonna hear that voice.” He’s talking to 16-year old Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) who will be lead singer for the Four Seasons and, a couple years later, do time in jail when the group skips out on an unpaid Holiday Inn bill. “Relax,” says singer/manager Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza). “It’s not the end of the world. We’ll be outta here in a couple days.” These are two themes in “Jersey Boys,” part showbiz fable, part mob movie.
Will Tommy’s debts to the mob sink the Four Seasons? Can Frankie keep the group and his family together? Do you remember “Sherry” or “Walk Like a Man”? Find out. See “Jersey Boys.”
Three original Broadway-cast actors reprise their roles in “Jersey Boys,” the film. Tony-Award winning John Lloyd Young, with the spectacular voice, is Frankie Valli, Michael Lomenda is quiet Nick Massi, and Erich Bergen is Bob Gaudio, song-writer and only group member not from the streets of Belleville, New Jersey. Vincent Piazza plays self-important and self-appointed manager Tommy DeVito, who thinks he’s a stand-up guy. To everyone else, he’s a two-bit, seedy hustler. He borrows money from the mob and knows how to get clothes, shoes and booze that “fell off the truck.” Christopher Walken is Gyp DeCarlo, local gangster with a fatherly interest in the group. When money problems arise, he says, “Let’s settle this in a civilized manner.” Like Johnny Depp, who sometimes seems to be in his own movie, Walken is a treat to watch.
Others in the cast include Kathrine Narducci and Lou Volpe as Frankie’s mom and dad, Renee Marino as Frankie’s difficult wife Mary Delgado, and Freya Tingley as troubled 17-year old daughter Francine. Mike Doyle is record producer Bob Crewe.
“Jersey Boys” will strike nostalgic chords with the generation who grew up singing “Sherry.” Fans of “Dreamgirls” (2006) and “Goodfellas” (1990) will like it, too – it has strong elements of both. Clint Eastwood directed, from Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s adaptation of their original juke-box musical. Tom Stern made the color-desaturated cinematography, giving the film a documentary feel. Likewise, when Tommy, Ricky, Bob, and Frankie address us directly, looking into the camera and, as the tagline says, “remembering it how they need to,” they remind us we’re watching a movie.
Rated R for pervasive language, “Jersey Boys” runs 134 minutes. “Family is everything,” says Frankie. “We’re just trying to get home.” That’s the take-away. Stay for the sing-along credits.
The Four Seasons’ story –
Frankie and “Jersey Boys,”
Tuneful, gritty drama,
Nostalgic, showbiz joys.