Not much for non-Frankie Valli fans in ‘Jersey Boys’

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Two years before four boys from Liverpool changed the landscape of rock music, it was four boys from New Jersey who broke through with an electric new sound that reverberated throughout the 50 states.

“Jersey Boys,” a Broadway musical chronicling the lives of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons band members, took the musical theater world by storm when it premiered, winning a Tony award for Best Musical in 2006.

The musical was recently adapted to film and released in theaters in June, with actor and director Clint Eastwood taking the helm in the director’s chair.

Frankie Valli, played by Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young, Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) each left their mark on America’s culture with the music they made.

The story of their rise, and eventual fall, is not unlike other bands — hard work leading to a meteoric rise and the eventual infighting, jealously and money issues. Yet hearing the tale from their side and seeing it through their eyes opens a door to a world left behind 50 years ago.

While “Jersey Boys” is far from the worst movie musical you’ll see (here’s looking at you, “Mama Mia”), it does suffer three major flaws that keep it far from achieving the fun level of “Hairspray” or the level of emotion found in “Chicago.”

First, up until Valli and company become the Four Seasons, the movie drags worse than Aunt Edna’s poor dog from “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” The onset of the musical is so devoid of energy and passion that you’ve almost completely stopped paying attention when things actually start happening.

Second, there is an extremely large cast of characters. So large, in fact, they were unable to develop certain essential characters, leaving the viewer confused by their actions.

One example is Frankie’s wife, Mary Delgado (played by Renée Marino). The audience observes when they first meet, their first date, their wedding and then maybe two or three other scenes. They go from happily married with a young daughter to Mary – who later turns into an alcoholic – throwing Frankie out for not being home enough. It’s that big of a jump.

And finally, the ending. The finale of the movie starts with the Four Seasons performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and then transitions to a giant Broadway-style ending where all of the characters are dancing while the credits begin to roll. While I have no problem with that style of ending, Eastwood set this film up as more of a biopic than a bonafide movie musical.

With how much the movie dragged, the tone of the finale probably would have served better for the whole movie because it was actually, you know, fun.

But even with its faults, however glaring they may be, “Jersey Boys” still ends up doing many things right. The music is a blast and any fans of the Four Seasons will be happy to know that their repertoire is treated with the utmost respect and handled perfectly.

The casting of the leads was also spot on — each had a very unique personality that really connected with the audience.

While strangers to the Four Seasons or folks who aren’t fans of the era might not find enough good storytelling in “Jersey Boys” to make it worth their while, those who are interested will find enough joy and nostalgia to make the movie well worth their time.

Timothy Everson is a sophomore in pre-journalism. Please send comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.

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Timothy Everson
Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.