Bringing a modern stage classic to the big screen, legendary director Clint Eastwood delivers Jersey Boys, the true-story jukebox musical of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, to cinemas.
Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) directs the screen adaptation of the Jersey Boys stage show with his to be expected control and focus on character, employing a subdued colour palette that lets the story shine through without being drowned by glitzy lights and heightened production design.
Jersey Boys follows the rise to fame of the members of the musical group The Four Seasons — Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza, TV's Boardwalk Empire), Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) — from 1951 to 1990.
Eastwood opted for a largely unknown cast, with three of the four leads in the film coming straight from the stage shows.
Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter) appears in the film as the Mafia boss and friend to the music group, Gyp DeCarlo, who also helped Frank Sinatra get his start.
Francesca Eastwood, daughter of Clint, also has a small role in the film, and her father manages his own sneaky cameo.
If viewers were unsure of the talent of Valli (who served as a producer of Jersey Boys) before the film, the first act — exploring the group's humble beginnings in 1951 — ensures they won't forget it, with members of the group doing jail time and at least a half dozen characters commenting on how young Valli had the voice of an angel.
Even from this young age — the film begins with the singer at the tender age of 16, which, unfortunately, Young is too old to play — Valli has dazzling pearly whites, perfectly coiffed hair and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
Successfully, Eastwood breaks the fourth wall and adopts the direct-to-camera audience address for Valli's band-mates, as they detail the ins and outs of particular events and moments of their journey.
It's not until the end that Valli himself finally speaks to the audience.
The story of the band is very entertaining, but it is the music that the fans have flocked to see, and Jersey Boys certainly delivers some toe-tapping performances, including such hits as Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like a Man and the climactic number Can't Take My Eyes Off You.
Eastwood clearly didn't forget the stage origins of his film, adding a gratuitously fun all-singing, all-dancing end-credits scene featuring the cast, with Walken indulging in his proclivity for dancing on film.
An entertaining and controlled musical biopic, Jersey Boys will leave cinema audiences cheering in applause.
Jersey Boys is rated M.