The question you could be forgiven for asking, the question even the cast admitted being perplexed by, is why? Why would Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood, he of the bleak Unforgiven and the haunting Million Dollar Baby and the utterly desolate Mystic River, want to helm an adaptation of a musical about a 1960s pop quartet and its squeaky-voiced frontman? Why, Clint?
The answer is simply that he's 84 years old, and he can do whatever he wants.
For him, that's wonderful. For us, it means we're left with a scattered, haphazard, thoroughly confused film that can't figure out if it's meant to be a winningly cutesy musical or a gritty narrative about life in crime-ridden 1950s New Jersey. Eastwood uses pallid gray filters to suffuse scenes with a somber sense of realism, but then the characters abruptly launch into a jaunty musical number, complete with fourth wall-smashing narration. The whole thing feels like a fusion of Broadway Babies and VH1's Behind the Music.
Eastwood's laissez-faire, empty-director’s-chair approach to Jersey Boys begins and ends with the material, which is too akin to musical theater to translate well to the screen and too overbearingly "real" to capture the joyful spirit of the original production. (It debuted on Broadway in 2005, won the Tony for Best Musical, and has been touring indefatigably ever since.) The cast is mostly plucked in its entirety from the show's first run, with the bouffant, sweetly insipid John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, Michael Lomenda as the gormless Nick Massi, and Erich Bergen as the clean-cut, preppy songwriter, Bob Gaudio. Boardwalk Empire's Vincent Piazza is the lone familiar face among the Four Seasons, playing gambling addict Tommy, a not-so-wise guy of infinitely shallow depths.