When my parents came out to New York for my college graduation last year, my mom and I were determined to take my dad to a Broadway musical so he could get the whole “New York experience”. But my dad is more of a baseball guy than a musical guy, so we weren’t sure if he would enjoy musicals as much as my mom and I. Trying to find something a guy’s guy would enjoy, we picked Jersey Boys over plays like Wicked and Mary Poppins. And, to our surprise and delight, my dad loved it. He loved the songs, all original songs from Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, so no overly theatrical musical numbers. He loved the story, the inside scoop on the journey of four guys from the streets of Jersey to the top of the Billboard charts. Jersey Boys became a good memory for my dad—despite the fact that there were no strikeouts or stolen bases—so when we found out that Clint Eastwood (a favorite of my dad’s) was turning the musical into a movie, my dad insisted that we go.
Anyone who liked the musical will enjoy the movie. The movie follows mostly the same structure as the musical, starting with the formation of the group in “the old neighborhood” in Jersey and going all the way to the induction of the Four Seasons into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Each member of the group—Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Guadio, and Nick Massi—take turns addressing the audience, offering their own perspective on the story of the band. The songs are worked into the story mostly chronologically as Guadio wrote their hits. Emotions and tensions run high in almost every scene. The only thing that didn’t translate perfectly from the stage to film was the pacing. The pacing of the play is very fast, the fluid transition of scenes and the movement of one song to the next really pushing the story forward. Though the movie followed the same pacing structure of the play, the story didn’t seem to move quite as fast, but that was my only complaint about the film.
There are a lot of things that makes Jersey Boys an interesting story. It’s rags-to-riches theme, the fact that it’s a true story, the drama between the band members, and, of course, the catchy songs. It’s a good movie for people who like the Four Seasons, musicals, tales from the wrong side of the tracks, or stories based on real events. Each of the four band members is lovable, despite all their many faults, and the stories of loyalty, betrayal, family, friendship, and music will keep anyone engaged. The movie is almost as good as the musical, which means it’s pretty good. There is some language and loose morals throughout the story, but what would you expect from Jersey?