Monday, June 23, 2014

JERSEY BOYS - Frankie Valli - and The Four Seasons

We got so much mail regarding "Jersey Boys", Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons that we decided to dedicate an entire page to it today. 

Figuring that many of you went out and saw "Jersey Boys" this past weekend (opening day was Friday, June 20th), we've included some of your comments and reviews on this topic as well. 

A WHOLE lotta hype for this movie ... they pulled out all the stops when it came to advertising ... you could barely look away before another commercial came on tv or the radio ... and let's face it, "Jersey Boys" on stage was one of the most popular Broadway musicals of recent time. 

But it was a little discouraging to view some of the promo clips that were circulating ... that sure didn't sound like Frankie Valli to me!  And I couldn't figure out WHY they'd let an inferior sound ... a sound that is not only so distinctive but also dominates the film ... why would producers (and director) risk falling short of anyone's expectations ... this would be the single, greatest drawing card to see the film. 

Many felt from the beginning that perhaps Clint Eastwood was not the best director to bring this story to the silver screen ... what was his connection to the movie?  When I started reading some of the press the week before its official theatrical release I became even more concerned ...

"This is not a musical ... we don't have people bursting into song for no reason throughout the film."  

"This is a drama ... it tells the story of life at that time and these just happen to be four guys from Jersey who beat the odds and made something of themselves.  The focus here is on the STORY, and NOT the music.  The principles just happen to be singers and musicians."   

"John Lloyd Young" hadn't sung the part of Frankie Valli in five years ... yet Eastwood insisted he play the lead in the film."  

"You don't get a complete Four Seasons song until you're one hour into the movie ... what's up with that?!?!"  

It almost seemed to me that with this many excuses circulating before the movie even opened, this film was in trouble ... fans of the highly successful musical (and of the real Four Seasons themselves) were going to be disappointed.  (The drama makes the story unique ... but the music makes the story memorable and worth telling ... THAT'S the part that's going to stick with you.  With the focus the other way around, my concern was that Eastwood was simply making "Good Fellas: The Musical" ... and that is NOT what fans of the Broadway Stage Production were going to want to see.  We wanted a faithful reenactment of that show on a larger scale ... something we could watch again and again.)  

All of our kids LOVED the stage production, too ... so we decided to make this a "family outing" and all go see it together.  I won't lie ... there was a considerable amount of reservation ... but we quickly deemed Sunday to be the big day of "The Jersey Boys BBQ" and off we went.  (Our review follows).   

There's been SO much press circulating about this film this past week that we thought we'd recap some of that today in Forgotten Hits.  

Hi Kent ...  
I just saw the clip ... Sadly, they sound like 'THE CHIPMUNKS' to me.  Hope they fix it fast!  

Meanwhile, the website "The Improper" proclaims: 
Is Eastwood’s version a success? Unquestionably! 
Sure, it won’t please everyone, but as an accurate record of the group, it’s positively spot-on. The tag line: “Everyone remembers it how they need to” is the key to the movie.
Don’t miss this one; it could well be the surprise of the summer.  
Click here: Clint Eastwood's 'Jersey Boys,' Adaptation More Hits Than Misses    

I’ve always felt that you are a pretty passive person as far as your comments go until you have researched all avenues and have had access to every shred of the topics at hand. I think in the case of the upcoming “Jersey Boys” you’ve seen enough to comment and I agree with you.  
I, too, have seen the preview and without seeing the entire movie have felt just like you do about this upcoming release of “The Jersey Boys”.  
We knew Eastwood was a big Charlie Parker fan and it showed in his “Bird’ movie. I can’t see Clint being a huge Four Season fan but regardless if he is or isn’t, I don’t agree with his approach to the movie.  
We have seen many a great Broadway play which couldn’t cut the mustard when it was turned into a major motion picture.. The one that come to mind right off the bat is “Hello Dolly”. I love the movie soundtrack of the great Jerry Herman lyrics and songs but the movie just didn’t cut it in my opinion.
When we were first introduced to the Broadway Jersey Boys we were as much intrigued by the story line as we were with the great music which we grew up listening to. I would much rather have seen Eastwood go with more accomplished actors and use the real Four Seasons great recordings. 
For Father’s Day I was given two Regal tickets to go see the movie when it is released this Friday. I’m sure kk will also go to see the movie when it is released this week.  I remember a Father’s Day a few years back when my daughter also bought me the Jersey Boys soundtrack. I listened to it once and then came to the conclusion “why settle for less when you have access to the best.”.
The year was 1966 or 1967 when I first saw the Four Season at a Back Of The Yards Chicago concert. I remember it for a few things. The first was Mitch Ryder who was on the bill as Mitch Ryder & The New Detroit Wheels. The second was, there was no choreographed footwork (Temptations, Four Tops) by Frankie & The three other Seasons. They just stepped up to their mikes and blew us away. I was also taken by the organ player and mostly by the great drummer which accompanied this fantastic 60’s group. I also remember that the final encore song that night was “Tell It To The Rain”. Fantastic !!!
I think there’s a good possibility that this movie could be huge success due to the fact that there is a great storyline and younger generations may be more than satisfied with the great songs that the Four Seasons gave us regardless of who may be singing them.  
We who frequent Forgotten Hits will never be satisfied with all the great music of our generation which is overlooked by all the oldies channel that are still out there. We are in the minority and there is a good possibility that we may again be in the minority when it comes to the final consensus critique of the movie “The Jersey Boys”.
Last but not least is the fact that the movie soundtrack appears to be a combo of old and new.  Again, “why settle for less when we have access to the best”.  
I have been praising "Jersey Boys" (the musical) since it first hit the stage ... one thing we have ALWAYS promoted here in Forgotten Hits is ANY method of keeping this music alive ... and the stage show introduced a whole new generation to the music of The Four Seasons ... and everyone who saw it, regardless of age or musical preferences, was touched by this music and literally overnight became Frankie Valli and Four Seasons fans. 
If this movie does nothing more than that, it will have served its purpose in my book.  But I agree ... why not feature the REAL music of this great group instead of limply trying to recreate it on a motion picture soundtrack?
As for "Tell It To The Rain", when's the last time you heard THAT one played anywhere.  (Probably at your 1967 concert!!!)  But that's what Forgotten Hits is all about ... so we're featuring it today.  (Another long-lost favorite from '67 is "Beggin", featured prominently in the movie in a key scene when the band decides to face Tommy's demons head-on.)  kk

Forgotten Hits broke the story about the Clint Eastwood cameo in the film ... but we weren't allowed to tell anybody what it was.  Well, the "secret surprise factor" was all over the news this weekend ... The Seasons are having a party in their hotel room, where Tommy DeVito has arranged for Bob Gaudio to lose his virginity.  When he and his "date" retire to the other room, you find a television on, tuned in to "Rawhide" ... with a VERY young Clint Eastwood in the starring role of Rowdy Yates.  (kk)    

Here's the New York Times review ... which also features that horrendous clip of "The Jersey Boys" singing "Who Loves You" ... Click here: ‘Jersey Boys,’ Eastwood’s Take on Showbiz Myth -  Let's just say it's not a very favorable review (despite the way it starts out.) kk

From Ron Smith's website, comes this consensus of reviews:
The Clint Eastwood-directed movie version of the Broadway hit, “Jersey Boys” opened Friday (June 20) to tepid reviews. The New York Times called it “a strange movie, and it’s a Clint Eastwood enterprise, both reasons to see it. For those with a love of doo-wop, it also provides a toe-tapping, ear-worming stroll down rock ’n’ roll memory lane that dovetails with that deeply cherished American song and dance about personal triumph over adversity through hard work, tough times and self-sacrifice,” but said it was, “disappointing that Mr. Eastwood, a director who can convey extraordinary depths of feeling in his work, didn’t do more with this material. Frankie’s scenes with his family tend to be embarrassingly bad…” Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun Times gave it 2 (out of 4) stars, moaning, “[a]t times the movie version of Jersey Boys captures the electric excitement of the musical, but for every soaring moment, there are 10 minutes of bickering or brooding. For one of the few times in Eastwood's career as a director, he seems indecisive about what kind of movie he wanted to make.” And “John Lloyd Young won a Tony for his portrayal of [Frankie] Valli on Broadway, and he does a remarkable job of capturing that distinctive falsetto voice. But there's no movie-star juice to his nonmusical work.” The Chicago Tribune gave it 2 ½ (out of 4) stars, recalling, “’ Goose it up too much, and it gets cheesy,’ Valli says to [Bob] Gaudio … about a song arrangement. Eastwood takes that line to heart. The unspoken B side of that warning, however, is worth heeding: No particular style leads to a movie of no particular style… Full of genial showbiz cliches and mobbed-up sweeties, it's an easy movie to take. It is also an uncertainly stylized one, with a drab sense of atmosphere at odds with the material's punchy theatrics.” The Hollywood Reporter was kinder, saying, “[a] dash of showbiz pizzazz has been lost but some welcome emotional depth has been gained … if the ultimate aim of the theatrical version … was to get the audience on its feet for the final feel-good medley, Eastwood goes for a more mixed mood, combining the joy of the music with what Valli, in particular, lost and could never regain.” But New Jersey’s gave it 3 stars, calling it, “a little long too, and overly reverent,” but “lovely,” concluding that, “as deliberately, consciously old-fashioned as it sometimes is, Clint Eastwood's ‘Jersey Boys’ is also often fresh, with a self-aware sense of fun that concludes with the whole cast dancing down one of those studio back-lot streets.”
(You'll find Ron Smith's own review later in today's posting)

We found more in the same vein from a variety of other sources ... gave it 2 1/2 stars and called it “Entertaining … just not all that good” ...       

Rotten Tomatoes (with 72 reviews in at the time I checked) scored it a 59% (out of a possible hundred ... it had dropped to 55% favorable reviews this morning when I checked again) while the LA Times says "Jersey Boys hits a few flat notes".  

The New York Post gave it a glowing review ... but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Williams wrote: "Now that I have suffered through 134 minutes of 'Jersey Boys,' I owe apologies to every music-themed movie at which I've lobbed rotten tomatoes, from 'Grease 2' and 'Glitter' to 'Rent' and 'Rock of Ages.' If I live to be as old as Clint Eastwood, I will never witness a more turgid, tedious and tin-eared assault on popular culture than this gaseous misfire."  (Ouch!) 

FH Reader Ed Salamon said he was going to the 4:00 matinee opening day ... I told him that we had planned a family outing for Sunday, officially dubbing it "The Jersey Boys BBQ" ... and that all of us (optimists that we are) were hoping that at least the food wouldn't suck.  (kk)
Here's Ed's review:   
Hi Kent,
Assuming you are not expecting a documentary, this is a really an enjoyable movie for fans of the music of the era.
So many events are compressed it's a bit unsettling to me  (eg Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi at the same meeting, when they really left several years apart and I only recall one mention of the Four Lovers, a pretty successful act I recall seeing on Ed Sullivan). Nonetheless I think the film captures the spirit and gist of the group's story as I understand it.
Having interviewed Frankie a number of times over the years, I think the film captures his mannerisms pretty well. I think they did a good job with Bob Gaudio, and Tommy too. Not so much with Nick - maybe because his actor didn't resemble him as much as the others did their characters.
It does irritate me when they violate the timeline for, in my opinion, no good reason: in a scene caption Newark, 1953 (IIRC) Frankie sings "Silhouettes" , a 1957 hit co-written by Crewe (generating some royalty income for Crewe). AFTER Gaudio joins they talk about the group being singed to RCA (why couldn't they have said VJ - or more accurately Gone?). and my pal Joey Reynolds will be disappointed that some anonymous deejay who locked himself in a studio gets the credit for breaking "Sherry" rather than Joey at WKBW. 
However, I urge you not  to let the facts get in the way of a great story told in a compelling manner.  Although there is plenty of nit to pick, most viewers will never pick upon that and will just enjoy the film.
Ed Salamon   

I think we liked the musical too much - so we'll automatically be disappointed by the movie.
Honestly I just think Clint Eastwood was the wrong guy to do this … they should have gone with somebody with a much stronger music background … but we’ll see … I’m sure there will be some redeeming parts … and I heard the “show-stopping” finale is excellent … I guess the real Frankie Valli comes out at the end … so at least the singing there will sound like him!  (kk)
UPDATE:  Despite what I had heard, Valli does NOT appear at the end of the film, which is presented as sort of a musical mega-mix of hits, featuring the entire cast.  It's a very uplifting scene, similar to what they did with "Joseph And The Amazing Techni-Color Dreamcoat" ... and even "Slumdog Millionaire" ... which is to say that even though it's been done before (and we've all seen it done before), it was still effective in this context.  (Honestly, it would have been kinda cool to see Valli and Bob Gaudio, listed as co-producers of the film, come out for the grand finale ... the real Joe Pesci, too!  Even Clint!)  kk

Yes, it's different from the play and has been converted from a juke box musical (the play) to an actual drama depicting with fairly good realism the early days (hit years) of the group. The film tells a story the record companies would not allow published in the TEEN magazines of the period. 
The show is a drama, and you don't see actors break out in song for no reason, but the hits are there (a few less than the play) as performed in authentic looking recording studios or concert venues.
Rated R for language ... but well worth seeing. Do yourself a favor ... go to the movie don't wait for the DVD.
Paul Urbahns
Radcliff, Ky    

Hi Kent-
Saw Jersey Boys today - very enjoyable,but with a few shortcomings. "Frankie's" falsetto is still a little too "trebly" but not as high in the final trailer clip. Film seemed to concentrate a little too much on the seamy side of the underworld (rather than the record business!) and not quite enough on the music. Also thought the story segues into the music were a little clumsy. That said, a must for fans of this music. Although the reviewers have not been kind to the film, the audience broke out in applause at the end. This tells me the movie will get word-of-mouth "legs" and become successful,if not a megahit.

Clint Eastwood doesn't know how to make a bad movie!
In spite of what will undoubtedly become a storm of reviews and comments on the subject, I'd like to say that "Jersey Boys" kicked ass. (You'll clap at the end)
I think the casting was excellent (remember they're doing a  movie not a play), so there's a different skill set involved here. You must have film type actors that understand the nuances of film-making. Movie producers can't afford to use unseasoned film actors in principle roles ... too risky and a big gamble.
Some of the characters were used from the play, like Frankie's wife Renee Marino, and the Gaudio character.
The singing was good enough for me, in fact better than good enough. The power that Frankie Valli had on the original records is a double`tracking ... besides if you want identical Four Seasons you'll need a time machine. They were one of a kind.
To all the musicians that read your blog:  Remember the days when we used one amp apiece and it was loud enough.
So go see it for entertainment, have a good time, and get your money's worth.
My favorite line, and the most truthful thing in the movie is when Bobby Gaudio states that without him there wouldn't have been a "Four Seasons".
BTW:When the James Brown movie comes out you won't get perfect James, but it'll be damn close and damn good enough.  
Alex Valdez 

Hi Kent,  
With so many postings about "The Jersey Boys", I thought it appropriate to send you the attached photo I took on my cellphone from my third row seat last evening (6/15) when Frankie Valli performed to a sold out house at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  His two hour plus show looked and sounded great, with Frankie on stage virtually the entire time. In addition to his solo and 4 Seasons hits, he did songs from his "Romancing The 60s" CD, which were received just as enthusiastically. I don't think the those attending could have been happier with the show and Frankie seemed pleased at the appreciative audience. Nashville resident Bob Gaudio attended, but sat in the balcony, so I didn't get a chance to see him.
Ed Salamon

But all the press about Frankie wasn't good this week ... we were a bit surprised by this discussion (especially once we started doing a little digging of our own!):

I don't want to spread rumors (I haven't been personally) ... but a radio show host was taken to a Frankie Valli show at a pretty large Long Island venue by his sister for his birthday.  He claimed that Frankie never broke a sweat ... just mouthed along to a pre-recorded track for the entire show ... with a 'live' button on the microphone so he could interject oohs and aahs and comments ... supposedly so very obvious that they 'pulled' youtube videos to confirm (I did not).  The 'voice' was of a very young Valli, not a 'seasoned' voice.  Needless to say that, although they were amused, they were disappointed.  Good to be in Frankie's presence, but could have heard the same at home ... can anyone confirm? 
I haven't heard that ... but the man is 80 years old ... so I can't say that it's inconceivable that he might need a little help with the high notes now and then.  We saw him a few years ago and it sounded pretty damn good to me.  I checked out a few recent YouTube videos and they all looked real ... so I'm not even going to speculate.  If somebody out there can prove otherwise, we'd like to see it ... but my personal experience shows Frankie to still be in GREAT shape musically.  (kk)

Then again ... maybe it's the world's worst kept secret ... and I'm just one of the last to know. 

We found comments dating back to 2009 stating that something seemed "a little bit off" during some of the recent Frankie Valli concerts attended by fans ... especially those in the first few rows who could visibly see some of the out-of-sync lip-synching glitches with the recorded playback.  

Check out this article we found online ... "Valli's voice has gone from falsetto ... to just plain false".  The crime?  The fact that fans are shelling out $75 - $150 per ticket to listen to a recording ... hell, you can buy the complete Four Seasons collection for that kind of money ... and hear EVERY song done to perfection.  (kk)  
Click here: Barry Lewis: Frankie Valli's singing has gone from falsetto to just false |   

And check out these Ticketmaster reviews ... not good ... not good at all!  
Click here: Frankie Valli Concert Reviews and Ratings | Ticketmaster  

Oh What A Night, June 20, 2014.
Well, not quite the same ring to it as "December, 1963,'' but today does mark the release of "Jersey Boys," Clint Eastwood's latest directorial endeavor. So, in honor of the nationwide release of the movie, I couldn't help but recall my brief encounter with Frankie, Bob and the band on Wednesday, March 25, 1964, when I booked them into the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium on behalf of the KXOA Radio "Good Guys." It was another "Vail-Polaris" joint production -- and, if I recall, general admission seats were $2!
I had done another 'appreciation' show for KXOA on September 6, 1963, that featured the great and much-revered Johnny Burnette, whose group, the Rock and Roll Trio (with brother Dorsey and friend Paul Burlison) are yet another 'early influence' group constantly snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That show also featured Freddy Cannon, The Righteous Brothers, Ray Peterson (that began a lifelong friendship with one rock's 'golden voices'), The Merced Bluenotes and The Rivingtons.
The Wednesday concert, during Spring (Easter) Break 1964, was a day after my 20th birthday, March 24. I was already working with The Beach Boys, setting up concerts and an occasional 'dance' on the west coast ... not the major markets like LA, San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco -- although I often went with them to those shows -- but secondary cities like Sacramento, Fresno, Marysville, CA, Portland, OR, Spokane, WA, Boise, ID, Reno and Las Vegas, NV. Most of the big acts pretty much ignored those cities and a few of them didn't really have any major venues in which to perform. Our Boise show was in the local high school auditorium, the Reno show was in an auditorium above the city library:)
I was on the road constantly in those days, having dropped out of Sacramento State College to join the Beach Boys organization as their first 'advance man,' emcee and marketing manager. I had been earning $2 an hour as a deejay, but could earn as much as $600 for promoting a Beach Boys gig. Not bad for a nineteen year old. On that particular Wednesday, I was visiting my parents at our home in Sacramento, when I heard a knock at the front door. When I opened it, it was Dennis and Carl Wilson who had come up to wish me a Happy Birthday and attend the concert.
I had hired The Crickets to open for The Seasons, but of course, it was not the 'original' group by that time and featured Jerry (JI) Allison on drums, Glen D. Hardin on keys (later Elvis' keyboardist), Sonny Curtis on guitar and Jerry Naylor on lead vocals, and, if I recall, bass.
The Crickets opened, got a great response from the crowd, and after a brief intermission, The Seasons took the stage. The show got off to a great start, but somehow during the intermission, or during the early part of their set, a few of the kids spotted Denny and Carl -- either in the 'wings' of the stage or through an open door to the backstage area. All of a sudden, the 'sighting' of Sacramento's all-time favorite group, got the kids in a frenzy. They were shouting their names and stomping their feet, and interrupting The Four Seasons and Frankie.
It was quite embarrassing for both groups and caught KXOA management, and myself totally off guard. We finally made the decision to stop the show and Carl and Denny walked out on to the stage to thank the kids for their applause but reminding them that this was 'the Four Seasons show and 'we'll be back in a few months to see you.' They politely asked the kids to let the Seasons go on with their show and to respect them as they respected the Beach Boys. The show resumed without incident and Denny, Carl and I, along with my girlfriend of the time, Dolly, and few KXOA friends, went out to a late night birthday dinner.
For me, it was, indeed, 'oh, what a night!'
Fred Vail,
Treasure Isle Recorders,
Music City, USA   

Kent ...
Frankie Valli wasn't always rich and famous.
Here he recalls his boyhood home.
Frank B.   

And here's a vintage clip of Bob Gaudio talking about the story behind "Rag Doll", a #1 Hit for The Four Seasons back in 1964.

From Tom Cuddy:
Why Clint Eastwood Recorded The Music For "Jersey Boys" Live ...

FH Reader Tom Cuddy also sent us this report ... "Fact Or Fiction" regarding the movie version depicting the career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  (We've already heard about the guys singing "Silhouettes" on a street corner in 1953 ... which in and of itself is pretty amazing ... since the song wasn't even written until 1957!!!  If you're going to do an accurate bio-pic or time-piece, you've got to Fact-Check, people!!!)  

This report comes from Dee Lockett and we're calling it:
Before The Four Seasons were The Four Seasons, they performed under many different monikers, most notably as The Four Lovers, at local New Jersey clubs like The Strand, as seen in the film’s beginning. And one key move that helped the band take off was the addition of Bob Gaudio, a songwriter who’d garnered some popularity for 1957’s “Short Shorts.” In the film, Joe Pesci (the same Joe Pesci that went on to star in Goodfellas and My Cousin Vinny, though he’s played here by Joseph Russo) hassles DeVito at a bowling alley about Gaudio, whom he claims he discovered, insisting that the group meet with him. Unbelievable as that all might sound, Pesci really is a New Jersey native and had been a longtime friend of the group in their early years. And he actually was responsible for Gaudio joining what became the Four Seasons and even appeared on stage at the 2006 Tony Awards with the group’s surviving members to remind audiences of that point. 
Not much later, we see the band outside a bowling alley — having just been rejected from a gig there — arguing about their name. All of a sudden, the alley’s previously broken neon sign lights up to reveal the name The Four Seasons, and the guys have a collective epiphany that that’ll be the name they perform under from that point on. It admittedly comes off like a cheesy plot device meant to segue to the story’s success chapter, but they really did get their name from that bowling alley. (Not from Vivaldi, as you might assume.)
Having been among the thirteen million people who have seen the stage musical, “Jersey Boys,” worldwide, I was unsure as to how this Broadway smash would translate to film, especially with Clint Eastwood at the helm. Well, big girls -- don’t cry. The boys are still the big men in town. Clint wisely understands the difference between Broadway musicals, where plot often takes a back seat to lavish musical production numbers; and movie musicals, where story drives everything. We’re seeing a filmed history of the singing Four Seasons with musical embellishment here, not a stage musical captured on film. This affords Clint the opportunity to embellish the stories (a slapstick attempt at a youthful heist gone wrong leaves Frankie Valli driving blind on two wheels) and even add some subtle humor (Frankie’s Newark, New Jersey, home has a clock with two pictures on either side -- the Pope and Frank Sinatra). Just as on stage, the actors often break the “fourth wall” to talk directly to the audience, adding information that can’t be told visually. 
John Lloyd Young won a Tony award for his portrayal of Frankie on Broadway (three of the movie Four Seasons were in the Tony-winning Broadway production) and looks and sounds enough like Frankie to be effective. His acting is perhaps too understated, though. He spends much of the film with a hangdog look on his face as life presents countless obstacles. Vincent Piazza (who didn’t appear in the stage production) is the real star as the mob-connected Season, Tommy DeVito -- not surprising since the story’s based on DeVito’s unpublished autobiography. Erich Bergen as singer / writer Bob Gaudio sets just the right tone, while Mike Doyle is a bit over-the-top as flamboyant record producer Bob Crewe. A strange bit of casting has Christopher Walken almost doing a parody of a benign mob boss, crying as Frankie sings his mother’s favorite song. There’s even a cameo by Clint himself as an episode of “Rawhide” is playing on a hotel television. 
As on Broadway, the actors sing the songs themselves, which keeps us from dealing with cheesy lip-synching. And the performances are devoid of the “belt it out so they hear you in the last row” that stage musicals require. You may resent “Jersey Boys” for starting the trend towards “jukebox musicals” on Broadway, but at least this one has a great catalog of songs to work with (though why the movie retained the three girls doing an overblown version of the Angels’ “My Boyfriend’s Back” is beyond me). Two original Four Seasons recordings are heard during the closing credits. There is the usual dramatic license taken in the film. No, groups did not perform live on “American Bandstand.” Frankie Castaluccio became Frankie Valli through singer “Texas” Jean Valli, not as portrayed in the film. “My Eyes Adored You” was recorded much later than when it’s used in the film. In fact, the movie uses Frankie’s recording of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” for its denouement as if it was a late-career comeback for him. In reality, at that same time, the Seasons themselves were still in the top ten with “C’mon Marianne.” I wasn’t thrilled with hearing the original Four Seasons singing “Who Loves You” and “December, 1963,” since Frankie is the only one of them who appeared on those recordings (and even then, does not sing lead on the latter). Nevertheless, the entire cast joining with them for a dance down Frankie’s old Newark street at the end was a satisfactory substitute for the rousing Broadway finale. 
The film is rated R for the kind of language you would expect “made men” to use. Which is a shame, since today’s youngsters need to see how superstars became famous before “American Idol.” The Four Seasons had 30 top 40 hits in their career and Frankie himself had nine more. Tune up and down your local radio dial and you’ll be lucky to hear two of them. That’s the real shame. Rating: 3 (out of 4) stars.   

-- Ron Smith /
Went to see Jersey boys late this afternoon. Gotta be home before dark so the boogie man doesn't get me.
It's easy to pick apart a movie, a play, a concert etc. There's always things that can be better.
So you think the singing isn't up to par in the movie? Well maybe it is and maybe it's not.
While the music is important, there's a story to be told here and, with a little bit of embellishment, I'm sure, it is told.
There were a few things about the group I didn't know, or had forgotten about. I did not know that both Tommy and Nick had done time for petty crimes and that Frankie was an inch away from that lifestyle. I knew he was exposed to it, I just didn't know how close it was to him. One also has to understand what it was like growing up in post WWII New Jersey where you rarely left the neighborhood and were part of the criminal element. As the movie alludes to, there were few options for a kid from the neighborhood.  
To me the singing wasn't bad, especially when you consider that in the years preceding Beatlemania, there weren't 64 track tape decks, no fancy gizmos on the instruments, or other enhancements. How often does the topic of quality music come up in FH, in regards to today's talent? Today, they can make any one of us sound great, in the studio, or even on stage. This is not to take anything away from the stage cast of Jersey boys. (I have not seen it. Probably in about 20 years, the local high school will do a production. It's possible they may attempt Grease sometime). I have nothing to compare it to. My advice is to forget what you've seen in the trailers and go for the story behind the music, to paraphrase VH1.
Lastly, two things come to my mind when watching the move.
First, I wish they could have worked in Christopher Walken saying "more cowbell". This is Hollywood, there has to be a way.
Secondly, for lack of a better way to put this, the final credits roll as there's a closing sequence, where everyone who plays a part in the movie participates in a musical number. I kept expecting to see Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley to somehow come out and reprise the Uptown Girl sequence. However that's just my warped sense of humor.
Maybe not a four star review, but I don't have a problem with three stars.
Since when is there an hour's worth of coming attractions? Boo hiss and thumbs down for that.
Go see it. Tell the theater manager that Jack at Rock And Roll Never Forgets said you should get a free drink and you'll give a good review for Jersey Boys in FH.  Jeez $5.50 for a large Coke!  No wonder I don't go to movies.
Looking forward to the James Brown bio.

Its obviously above and beyond fashionable to clobber Clint Eastwood's "Jersey Boys", and having seen the flick, there are some annoying flaws.
Exhibit A:  The Four Season sounds more like the Knickerbockers doing "Lies" than the group that gave us the brilliance and resilience of "Rag Doll."
B:  The "Tommy" character is so damn "Jersey" you have to figure he has a tattoo of "Hoboken" on his back. As a result, the movie gets bogged down whenever he does one of his verbal riffs to the audience.
Eastwood simply tried to hard to make Frankie Valli a tragically sympathetic figure. However, I do admire the fact that Clint didn't make the film a 22 song "greatest hits" dance party just to guarantee
the commercial success of the film.
In other words, Eastwood took some risks - some worked, some went south. NO, I didn't expect, nor did I want the film to be a recreation of the incredibly successful play.
I wanted a new adventure. I left the film reasonably happy. Hey, it sure as hell beats Tom Cruise doing anther piece of Sci-Fi crap.
Jersey Boys - a very liberal ***
Chet Coppock
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And, finally,  

Short Take:  Pleasantly Surprised  (7 out of 10)  

There was plenty that I didn't like about the new "Jersey Boys" movie ... 

It's too long ... and it's made to feel even longer than it is because of the pacing of the early scenes of the movie ... any scene that doesn't feature some musical advancement in their career seems to move along at a snail's pace. 

In fact, the first hour of the film is spent chronicling the events leading up to their break-through hit "Sherry".  As such, we are bombarded with songs that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the group we all know and love (many of which most people won't even know or have any connection with!) ... and, as a result of this time spent focusing on the early era of the formation of the band, the unfortunate trade-off is that we don't get to hear many of their biggest hits when they DO finally make it!  I couldn't help but feel short-changed by so many legitimate hits being left off the soundtrack in favor of this incidental "learning curve". 

Then, when they DO finally make it, they breeze through this successful period of time very quickly, scattering a brief flurry of hits (all of which seem to have the same "performance" ending) without any real substance or emotion.  This is instead reserved for the confrontation over Tommy's debt and the sudden departure of both Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio, leaving Frankie to soldier on with three brand new Seasons ... in the scheme of things, barely mentioned and then abandoned completely, never focusing on the fact that Valli WAS able to rebuild The Four Seasons and keep the hits coming.

Then, just as Frankie's about to release his biggest solo hit ("Can't Take My Eyes Off You", #1, 1967), the film suddenly leaps ahead 23 years to their 1990 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction ... once again, leaving out any number of subsequent hits enjoyed by the band including their HUGE mid-'70's comeback with "Who Loves You" and "December, 1963".  (Yes, both songs are eventually featured ... in truncated form ... elsewhere in the film ... but how do you skip 23 years after you've spent the first hour of the film covering 12 years of trying to break the band???) 

There are a number of examples of things being out of chronological order, many of which have already been pointed out in examples cited above (so I see no need to go through them all again ... suffice to say that a little "fact-checking" would have been a welcome addition to the final product.)  One correction, however, that I DO feel needs to be pointed out is that in the stage production, the song performed after the death of Frankie's daughter Francine is "Fallen Angel" ... and NOT "My Eyes Adored You", something that at least three critics above got wrong in their reviews.  

The weakest actor (by far) was the Frankie character (John Lloyd Young).  The STRONGEST actor was Vincent Piazza, who played the role of Tommy DeVito (and, I'm told, is the only lead in the cast who hadn't previously played this role on Broadway.)  The rest of the cast is also strong, which made the story believable and fun to watch unfold.  Personally, I would have enjoyed a little more of the Bob Crewe character (Mike Doyle) because it was his input and expertise, coupled with songwriter Bob Gaudio that REALLY made things gel.  Substantial time is spent establishing the DeVito, Valli and Bob Gaudio characters ... but Nick Massi almost plays as an after-thought ... other than his one big rave-out scene when he quits the band, he's barely there ... when, in fact, he was the vocal arranger for the quartet ... and was most definitely involved and instrumental in their overall sound.  

My feeling again is that if you've never seen the stage show, you'll probably LOVE the movie ... because you're seeing all of this material unfold for the very first time.  However, if you HAVE seen the stage show, you'll definitely feel bogged down by the pacing ... and the elimination of some of the songs used in that context ... in favor of more dramatic scenarios. 

I have two REALLY big song beefs ... for me, the single, most pivotal moment in the stage production was when the group finally had to face the music and make their deal with the loan shark to whom Tommy was so deeply indebted.  The soundtrack at that moment presented "Beggin'" which, to my ears anyway, was the PERFECT marriage of song and drama ... that entire sequence is missing in the film version.  (And I can't help but wonder if it was cut at the last minute ... because the song DOES appear on the film's soundtrack album.) 

And finally, I am MOST disappointed by the fact that they didn't clean up some of the horrible musical glitches there at the end during the performances of "Who Loves You" (horrendous harmony) and "Rag Doll" (even worse!!!)  I love the fact that they kept the dialog for each Season intact from the stage production, each recapping their role (from their own perspective) in the band's success ... but this is done over the backdrop of what just may be the most out-of-tune harmony ever committed to film by way of their rendition of "Rag Doll". 

The music throughout the rest of the film is actually pretty good ... on more than one occasion I felt like clapping after a particularly strong number ... so why they'd let these vocal flubs go is beyond me.  Go back in and redub the ending and end the film on a high note.  Fix the vocal and harmony on "Who Loves You" ... and do SOMETHING with those held, harmony notes on "Rag Doll" ... (I don't care ... auto-tune if you have to!!!) ... and give this film the big finish it deserves! 

And yet, despite ALL of these negatives, I am STILL able to give the film a "7" out of 10.  It's a movie worth seeing ... a story worth telling and hearing ... and once the real music finally does kick in, a fun film to watch and enjoy.  Yes ... there are more depressing moments than highlights ... in that respect, the film has an overtly dark tone ... but I do believe that this is a DVD I could watch again and again because the redeeming values outweigh all the bad.  (And who knows ... maybe there'll be some worthwhile outtakes and extras on the dvd NOT shown on the silver screen ... at two hours and fourteen minutes, I'm not sure they shouldn't have edited even further ... particularly that first hour to help things move along at a little brisker pace.  I believe they easily could have conveyed the frustration of trying to make it on their own during the "background singer" years by just running short, one minute medley-type performances.)  And, quite honestly, it would have been nice to see the band ENJOYING some of their success along the way, too, instead of constantly being bogged down by one upset after another.  But I still have to give the film a positive review ... and recommend that you go see it.  (kk) 

How'd it do at the box office ... pretty lukewarm actually.  (I know our theater had less than 50 people in it ... but most of them applauded at the end of the film, too.)

"Jersey Boys" came in 4th place for the weekend ... and a pretty distant 4th at that ... with box office receipts of $13.5 million, or about half (and less than half) this week's top three films:  "Think Like A  Man ($30 Million), "22 Jump Street" ($29 Million) and "How To Train Your Dragon 2" ($25.3 Million).  In fact, it just barely edged out Disney's "Maleficent", which still managed to do $13 million in its fourth week of release!