Monday, January 19, 2015

Skip This One

Today I got around to watching a rental of 2014's Jersey Boys, directed by Clint Eastwood and based on the stage play of the same name. It is about the life and times of the 1960s vocal group (based a lot on doo wop singing of the 1950s) the Four Seasons, a group I despised in their heyday of the early sixties but grew to like them over the years as I appreciated more and more vocal group singing.

I had wanted to see this film for several months, but when I finally got the chance, I found it was a big disappointment. The good news is that there is no gratuitous violence or sex scenes--thank God--although there are far too many f-bombs sprinkled in the flick. People, even in Joisey back then, didn't often talk that way. I think Eastwood or his scriptwriter forgot the way things really were back then in terms of language. It wasn't until the late 1960s that the "f-word" was used with regularity until it got to the point people weren't shocked by it anymore.

But it wasn't the language that bothered me. It was the fact this was a pretty boring story, which tells me that Frankie Valli especially didn't have a very colorful life. He was short, but let me tell you, he was no Mickey Rooney in the lifestyle department, and his life story is probably not worthy of a feature film. Jersey Boys may be a lot better as a stage play, but I have never seen it so I can't say.

The actors' interpretation of the group's signature songs was okay, but let's face it. Few people can copy Frankie Valli with much success at all. I know this for a fact, for during the many times I drove to and from Reno and played the group's biggest hits like "Rag Doll" and "Let's Hang On," that I would get a sore throat for days and days from trying to hit the notes Valli could do with ease. (Frankie Lymon also did this to my vocal chords.) With that I had a newfound respect for Valli's talent. It's NOT easy singing falsetto and to do it for any length of time.

There were a few other groups and individuals during that era that tried to ape the Valli sound. There was the Newbeats, with its famous "Bread and Butter" tune, and Lou Christie, with "Lightning Strikes." Both of those acts were good, but most people didn't try to do to their voices what Valli did to his.

Amyway, watching the movie was kind of like watching paint dry. A few Four Seasons diehards might like it, but I say most people should just skip it. There are a couple of real Four Seasons recordings in the closing credits including the immortal "Rag Doll" for audiences to try and sing along with and wreck their vocal chords for a week.

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