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MOVIE REVIEWS: JERSEY BOYS

June 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Although it’s clearly not every critic’s glass of chianti, Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, which tells the story of the 50s’ pop group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has received mostly positive reviews from critics. "It’s a universal, American ‘anyone can make it’ success story that has uplifting appeal," writes Rex Reed in the New York Observer. Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times observes that the screenplay "doesn’t shy away from the story of how unexpected fame unhinged these guys, wreaked havoc with their personal lives, preyed on their weaknesses and allowed them the opportunity to both succeed and fail on a grander scale than they ever imagined." But Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal finds it all "cheerless, bordering on grim," and writes that "the film leans heavily, and I mean heavily, on the dark side of the group’s success — the early lapses into criminality, the scheming and incessant quarreling, the financial follies that get them deeply indebted to the mob. It’s The Sopranos in falsetto register, GoodFellas full of glum fellas and their grating dames." Ty Burr in the Boston Globe makes a similar case and puts the blame directly on Eastwood. "What on Earth is Clint Eastwood doing directing this movie?" he asks. "Not that Jersey Boys … has to be brought to the screen by an Italian-American filmmaker. But Eastwood, born and raised on the West Coast and a man whose musical tastes run famously to jazz, brings no genuine insight or real, observed life to this film." The film, however, receives a terrific review from Jersey itself. Stephen Whitty, writing in the Newark Star-Ledger, who remarks that "as deliberately, consciously old-fashioned as it sometimes is, Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys is also often fresh, with a self-aware sense of fun."