Sunday, November 9, 2014

Video review: "Jersey Boys"

“Jersey Boys” was fairly ignored at the box office, but it’s just the sort of movie that clicks on video.

It’s got a historical story that appeals to older audiences, not to mention a soundtrack that plays like a Top 40 list from the 1960s. Couple that with winning performances and a dark – though not too dark – look at the underbelly of the music biz, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a home video hit.

The story of The Four Seasons is the story of America’s transition from the relative stability and conservatism of the 1950s to the upheaval and pandemonium of the ‘60s. The band, who combined the smooth vocals of the old-timey barbershop quartet with the beats and theatrics of rock, owned the airwaves prior to the British invasion.

Based on the Broadway show and directed by Clint Eastwood, “Jersey Boys” stars John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, whose effortless falsetto was somehow both angelic and masculine. Young, who also starred in the stage version, manages to play Valli from age 16 to 60 without ever straining.

I also appreciated the fact that rather than having the actor lip-synch to vintage recordings of the real McCoy, Young actually provides his own facsimile of the distinctive Valli sound – and a really good one, too.

Rounding out the cast are Erich Bergen as Bob Gaudio, who wrote many of the Four Seasons songs; Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi, the go-along-to-get-along member of the group; Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito, the resident bad boy; and Christopher Walken as a local mafia don with a soft spot for the boys.

A lot of movies get lost in the shuffle of summer, and most of them deserve to. But “Jersey Boys” nails its high notes.

Extra features are merely so-so. The DVD comes with just a single making-of featurettes, “Oh, What A Night” to Remember.” Upgrade to the Blu-ray combo pack and you add two more, “From Broadway To The Big Screen” and “Too Good To Be True.”



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