Plot: What’s it about?
I’ll say right off the bat that musicals are my least favorite genre. Don’t ask me why, but it’s just never been my thing. To be fair, Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys is only part musical, but strangely, I found the music to be the best part about the film. Based on the Broadway play, the film tells the story of how the musical group Four Seasons came together. The film is part musical, part drama with elements that feel like a Goodfellas Knockoff. John Lloyd Young plays Frank Valli and the film follows him throughout several years and does a good job of making him seem age appropriate. Vincent Plaza also does a good job as Tommy DeVito and his character provides some amusing moments, especially early on. As we follow Valli and the rest of the gang, we see the birth of the band and the more turbulent times and pretty much everything in between. There’s no shortage of melodrama on display here. Most of the group’s most popular tunes are heard here including Big Girls Don’t Cry, Sherry and Walk Like A Man. For me, these portions proved to be the highlight of the film. I mentioned that I don’t love musicals, but I am a fan of the songs heard here, and I think that helped make the musical portions enjoyable for me.
Clint Eastwood is not only a wonderful actor, but quite a competent Director as well. I think he’ll continue making films until he’s no longer physically capable. I’m sure this was something of a passion project for him, but I can’t help feeling that he just missed the mark. It’s hard to call the film a total dud, but it’s just so inconsistent to make much of an impression. Elements of it feel cheesy and cliché, while few elements work. He does successfully recreate the 1960’s with the clothing and styles as well as the classic cars. All that’s fine, but the story meanders too often, and he never seems to settle on what kind of film he wants to make. The music portions work, largely because the songs are so well known and sung with conviction, but little else registers. The story of a band’s ups and downs is nothing new, and in turn, it makes the film feel more predictable. I’ll chalk this one up as a mild disappointment. For those curious, a rental is the highest I can offer. Having said that, the best bet may be to just pop on some old tunes by The Four Seasons and skip the film all together.
Video: How’s it look?
For the majority of his films, Clint Eastwood has preferred the use of a very wide scope. This rings true in Jersey Boys as the 2.40:1 AVC HD image sparkles, but somehow lacks the punch of a new to Blu-ray release. By no means does this look bad and had I not seen thousands upon thousands of DVD’s and Blu-ray’s over the last decade and a half, I’d say that to the untrained eye, fault won’t be found. I noticed a few elements of debris during some of the nighttime shots, a few elements of softness in some other scenes and, despite a general sharpness to the image – it just seemed to wow me. That said, the contrast and black levels do work well off one another, detail looks good and for a period piece, it gets the message across. It’s a nice-looking image, but given the stature of Eastwood and his films as well as Warner’s overall commitment to quality – I was expecting just a tad bit more.
Audio: How’s it sound?
As far as musicals go, this one uses every bit of the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. Vocals are rich, pure and crisp and if despite what you think of The Four Seasons, I have to give it to actor John Lloyd Young – the guy can belt out a tune. The range is very dynamic as well, as anyone knows (or at least you will after the movie is over), The Four Seasons were known for their signature high-pitched vocals. Normal, spoken dialogue is sharp and crisp with surrounds adding a bit of extra ambiance to selected scenes. While this isn’t the “in your face” type of audio mix that’s become so common with action/adventure films, this still manages to convey a very robust sound without being overly annoying.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Eastwood’s films aren’t generally known for their extras and I don’t think that Mr. Eastwood has ever recorded a commentary track for one of his films. He should, though, for each one he’s directed – now wouldn’t that be a treat? Still, this has a smattering of supplements included in the two disc set.
- From Broadway to the Big Screen – The supplement with the most content is this 20+ minute “documentary” with some interviews with Eastwood, the producer as well as some of the key actors in the film. As the title entails, it’s simply taking Jersey Boys from Broadway to a feature-length production.
- Too Good to be True – This one focuses on Donnie Kehr’s and Erica Piccininni’s leap from Broadway to the film and features a few behind the scenes sequences.
- “Oh What a Night” to Remember – Mainly focusing on the film’s final number, we get a look at the choreography involved as well as the preparation involved for the finale.
- DVD/Digital HD Copy