At this point, a lot of ink has been spent on negative reviews of Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys. It is also pretty obvious at this point that the movie is going to perform terribly at the box office, and will probably be erased from the public consciousness very soon (if it ever had a place in it to begin with). I’m not here to write a negative review of Jersey Boys -God knows there are enough out there. I’m also not here to defend the movie, for that would be absolutely ridiculous. I’m here to point out a very particular way in which Jersey Boys is a failure, because this is a perfectly mediocre and forgettable movie, up until the very last minutes of its running time, in which it becomes an infuriating experience. But infuriating in a very particular way.
There is a very popular film critic motto that says you should review the movie you watched and not the movie you wish you’d watched, but this is a little hard in the case of Jersey Boys. Here’s why. I don’t want to call my experience a case of false advertising, since the trailer for Jersey Boys made the movie look as flat and boring as it actually is. Oh, since we’re at it, let me use this moment to say that the movie is essentially a biopic of singer Frankie Valli, and the band mates that, together with him, constituted The Four Seasons. And for virtually all of its running time, the movie is exactly that. A typical musical biopic that follows the rise, fall, and rise again of a popular artist. It follows fairly accurately in the tradition of Ray and Walk the Line –especially thanks to Eastwood and cinematographer Tom Stern’s typical shadowy lighting and muted color palettes- although it isn’t nearly as good as either of those movies (and Ray is pretty uninspired).
This is not such a big deal. I mean, every biopic of this kind is a sin against entertainment, but after being bored out of your mind for two hours, you can just shrug and figure the movie was yet another mediocre entry into a tired genre. The problem with Jersey Boys is that its origins were a little dubious. Because the movie is supposedly based on the Tony-winning musical of the same name. Now, I haven’t seen the show, but considering it is a pretty big hit that’s been running close to ten years, I assume it must feature the kind of energetic song-and-dance numbers that Broadway hits are made of. Jersey Boys the movie shouldn’t really even be described as a musical. It’s a movie with songs in it, but it doesn’t feature any numbers that move the plot forward, reveal character, or are even show-stopping. Well, none except one…
In the last five minutes of the movie (during the closing credits to be exact), after two hours of being as lifeless and predictable a movie as it gets, Clint Eastwood stages a musical number that is far and away the best (and maybe only good) part of the movie. One of the big doubts going into this movie was whether such a sober director as Eastwood would be able to make a musical. Now, on the one hand it seems like he wasn’t really interested in making a musical, but on the other, this last scene shows that he is perfectly capable of staging a rousing number, and a really good one at that. If the movie had been any good, then this scene would have served as a funny and clever way to end the story, but as it stands, it’s kind of slap in the face to the movie that could have been. One that, at the very least, was actually entertaining to watch.
Grade: 3 out of 10