Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be fascinating.
I’m a big fan of stage musicals, I’ve seen a lot of shows on Broadway and countless others on tour, and I also happen to be a Four Seasons/Frankie Valli fan, yet somehow I’ve never managed to see Jersey Boys. (Though, interestingly, it’s coming to my town in just a couple months.) I was very excited when I heard that they were adapting the Tony Award-winning musical into a film. But when I first watched the trailer I wasn’t nearly as excited as I thought I would be. Take a look below and read on for my thoughts:
For anyone who grew up listening to the Four Seasons, it’s a little jarring to hear their songs coming from different voices. John Lloyd Young (who won a Tony for Jersey Boys) does a good imitation of Frankie Valli, but his voice was so unique it’s impossible to completely match. It was so distracting that I was very disappointed in the trailer on my first viewing. However, I thought I’d go watch some videos from the stage version to see if I could change my mind, and after watching some performances I’ve softened a bit. Obviously, I’m used to recordings of the Four Seasons, so it’s easier to hear Young and the rest sing their songs live, as live performances never sound the same as the recordings. But with the polished nature of of the trailer, the music hovered right in that no-man’s-land between being too close to the original and not close enough to the original.
However, I think I’ve gotten over that initial gut reaction and am now looking forward to Jersey Boys. Unlike some other musical acts that received biopics (Ray Charles, Johnny Cash), not as much is know about the men behind the Four Seasons, and even less was common knowledge before the musical debuted almost 10 years ago. The movie seems to be following the stage version’s narrative technique of switching points of view among the members of the group, as we hear different narrators (talking directly to the camera) throughout the trailer.
The production did a good thing in hiring several veterans of the stage production for the cast, including Young, given the demanding vocals required for the film. They could easily have gone the route of Ray and cast more recognizable faces and used original recordings instead (or perhaps hired the stage actors just to do the singing), but that would have been a pretty crappy way to handle things. The most familiar face in the film is Christopher Walken as mob boss Gyp DeCarlo.
Director Clint Eastwood has made some truly spectacular films in the past couple of decades, as he transitioned from actor to director, including Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima and Invictus. He’s definitely an actor’s director, coaching great performances from his casts without ever getting too showy with his direction. However, the only musical that I’m aware of him working on was Paint Your Wagon 45 years ago, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles that aspect of the film. (I also have to confess that my opinion of Eastwood has dropped a bit following his bit with an empty chair at the 2012 RNC, which was far beneath him and stood in conflict with his previously expressed political views.)
In all, despite an early overreaction, I’m excited about Jersey Boys. Between this and Into the Woods (not to mention Frozen), it’s looking to be a good time for movie musicals, a trend I hope continues for a while. Plus, if nothing else, the film has a fantastic poster. Take a look:
What do you think? Are you excited for Jersey Boys? How do you think Eastwood will handle directing a musical? Are you glad they cast stage veterans in most of the major roles? What do you think about the poster? What’s your favorite film biopic of a musician? Are you happy that more musicals are being produced? Let me know in the comments!