Friday, 20 June 2014
REVIEW: JERSEY BOYS
134 Minutes. Starring: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda, Erich Bergen & Christopher Walker. Director: Clint Eastwood.
Off Broadway comes one of New York's greatest theatrical shows, switching the stage to the billboard, blockbuster circuit circus of cinema. For 'Jersey Boys' take a look behind the ticket stub as we tear through the real history and story behind the bow-ties and red tuxes for a new movie for your matinee that is more than just a magical musical. 'Oh What A Night' indeed. Whether you abide by 'Big Girls Don't Cry' or 'Walk Like A Man', or if you need a song writing credit check or a tour through musical legacy its all on show here. This is a movie that is as beautifully nostalgic as it is necessarily educational. This is a fab four who made the Ed Sullivan show that could rival the Mersey boys, as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons where cutting records before The Beatles became the worlds famous and greatest bands. Now taking us to school as one of the worlds most well known groups, the star pupils of John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda and Erich Bergen graduate to new stage-left heights and who better to direct this show than the master Clint Eastwood himself? The 'Dirty Harry' and spaghetti western legend has become as legendary a director as actor with his 33rd film from behind the camera for the legacy of his classic career. From the player coach likes of 'Unforgiven' and 'Million Dollar Baby' to the modern greats of 'Changeling' and 'Inviticus' he's become the chairman, his Sinatra way. Still we haven't seen a Clint chaired film since 2011's underrated and unflinching 'J. Edgar' collaboration with act-a-like Leonardo DiCaprio, although he swung some sweet acting for 2012's knocked out the park 'Trouble With The Curve'. Now before he shoots 'American Sniper' with Bradley Cooper he aims for the stars and boy does he get four of them.
With a pitch perfect script and a highest note of deliverance the stage is set for a feel-good film of real Summer warmth that's not afraid to still tell it like it is from the sobering substance issues to the gangster walk. No matter the egos or troubles this one comes out swinging and singing . The master of subtle strength in story and humanity; Eastwood gives these New Jersey kids more than their break, he breaks them too...all the way down to the core trials and tribulations that marked their New York times in Broadway, broadsheet ink. Drinking their way through whiskey and women and drowning their sorrows of depression and death, this may be built for the classic burger and shake, jukebox diners but its not all 'Happy Days' in these four seasons of emotions. From 'Mystic River' to 'Flags Of Our Fathers' here is a director whose always been brave enough to tread fearful territory without trepidation and here he shows the true grit behind the glitz and glamour of these celebrated celebrities. Like 'That Thing You Do' meets 'A Bronx Tale', this film walks the line of being as dark and stark of 'Ray' and still sounding so damn good. There's even some new tricks of the trade as our characters Ferris/Fred Savage narrate their way to some face to the audience screentime that rivals Scorsese's Leo of Wall Street. There's even an Eastwood easter egg here, full of spaghetti. You can shake your hairspray for the big numbers but slick back the previous combed over hairline issues that truly make this show gel. Theres a lot of improvised cries behind those staged smiles and our director who wore a trademark tux to the premiere knows how to unbutton his way to the naked truth. The man who told the best Nelson Mandela story and brought the even better best out of Angelina Jolie makes the career of four more young men, who become more than just the stars they play.
John Lloyd-Young takes the lead in more ways than one with a frank performance as Valli. A star is truly born indeed from the on cue vocals to the Jersey chops that shows stars from this town are hustled and made. This Young talent is more than just a look, or sound alike, he's another hot young actor wooing and throbbing hearts on the beat to his own cusp of superstardom. Just like the Four Seasons are more than just the Jersey Boys monkier, John Lloyd-Young is more than Frankie Valli. Behind him Erich Bergen writes his own story as the inspired and influential hitman hitmaker who back then wrote more chart toppers than Pharrell. Sure this actor may look like that Josh guy from 'Friends' but uncannily now he's about to make his own, new mark on the 'How I Met Your Mother' generation. Then there's the bass line of Michael Lomenda that adds more depth in baritone and brute from the groups melodies to the four friends lack of harmony. Still its Vincent Piazza who looks to steal the show from Young like his Devito character wants to do with Frankie's limelight. Swearing, smoking and stressing through all the success, this muses conflictions are done with this mans conviction. The 'Boardwalk Empire' soprano has more behind his wet ears than some mob-ties and swear jar gumption. In this picture this kid looks like he could rise above Phoenix and play Johnny Cash with that distinct but spot on look. We know he can sing, now just wait until they apply the aged make-up. Could we have another man in black film already? Sure if Clint does it! The master of music movies from jazz legend 'Bird' to this that even has legend Christopher Walker attending his second Broadway show after marrying Travolta in 'Hairspray' and with an old fashioned, throwback performance of classic signature too. This Broadway number one is about to be another long running hit at a whole other box-office. The boys from Jersey that rocked even before Springsteen rolled have new life that is born to run with an 84 year old director who is only getting started with recording his greatest hits. Its just too good to be true. Don't take your eyes off it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.