THE BLOG
07/01/2014 05:30 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys

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Kumba is what you think about when you see Clint Eastwood's movie version of Jersey Boys. Everyone but Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) who talks about T.S. Eliot's "objective correlative" is from the neighborhood and that's the problem. The disquisition rendered in intentionally old style Technicolor (which is to say intentionally lacking in the kind of production values audiences are used to today) renders a series of plastic stereotypes, a kind of working class commedia dell'arte. Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) is clueless, Tom DeVito (Vincent Piazza), is the not too street wise criminal who mortgages the group's future and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) the winteriest of the Four Seasons just wants to go home. Frankie's wife Mary Delgado (Renee Marino) couldn't have been too happy with her portrait as a demanding alcoholic who forces her husband to pack his bags just as he's about to make it. Apparently it's all true, but it also plays as the stuff of a lousy afternoon soap or reality show like The Real Housewives of New Jersey..

Speaking of neighborhoods, the aging demographic of the cranky crowds attending Jersey Boys might remind you of another Italian neighborhood, Dante's Inferno. Marshall Brickman's script sacrifices believability for verisimilitude. At one point Frankie and his pals try to steal a safe which is so heavy that their car rides on two wheels. It's a scene that wouldn't be worthy of a Little Rascals outtake. Sometimes the things that people actually say to each other are neither informative nor entertaining and furthermore Jersey Boys is not cinema verite. It's a musical, but once the dreary backstory with its god forsaken lounges and hokey songs comes to an end, you get the pay off. "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," "Let's Hang On," "Candy Girl," "Walk Like a Man," "Dawn," "Sherry,""Who Loves You," "I'm Working My Way Back to You." Who cares if the lives of The Four Seasons were embarrassing and deeply sad (one of Frankie Valli's daughters, Francine, a talented singer in her own right died of a drug overdose and his stepdaughter, Celia died the same year from a fall). "You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind..." Rod Serling says in his introduction to The Twilight Zone. That's where those hits exist.

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}