Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2014. Four Seasons Partnership, GK Films, Malpaso Productions, RatPac Entertainment, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice, based on their musical. Cinematography by Tom Stern. Produced by Clint Eastwood, Tim Headington, Graham King, Robert Lorenz. Production Design by James J. Murakami. Costume Design by Deborah Hopper. Film Editing by Joel Cox, Gary Roach.
Clint Eastwood adapts the hit Broadway musical that covers the career of the Four Seasons, from a group of young kids singing under a street lamp to their fame as recording superstars. John Lloyd Young reprises his stage role as Frankie Valli, the little guy with the golden voice whose unique falsetto talents made him beloved in his neighbourhood from a young age, protected by the local tough guys and his much more streetwise best friend Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza). Teaming up with band member Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) and taking on songwriter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), the Four Seasons are eventually making television appearances when songs like “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like A Man” transform them into internationally famous musicians under the care of their co-writer and producer Bob Crewe (Mike Doyle). Meanwhile, their personal lives take the traditional biopic route of falling apart just as their professional lives soar, with Valli saddled with a bad marriage to an increasingly alcoholic and angry woman and DeVito plunging the group in his own problems with massive debts. It all sounds like the surefire makings of a hit, and with Eastwood at the helm it should be an efficient and exuberant look at this legendary troupe, so why is the whole thing so dreary? I have not had the pleasure of seeing the show on stage but I can only imagine it was, like many of the pastiche musicals that have become popular in its time, a non-stop music marathon with plot excuses thrown in between songs. Here the numbers are few and far between and the scenes between them dark and heavy; the actors all give it their best but cannot shine under such unremarkable circumstances, veering between overdoing their Jersey accents for theatrical caricature while the endless but shallow dialogue seems to be demanding something more specifically dramatic (and, quite frankly, make those scenes feel like they’re from a different film). The music numbers do sound great, but contribute little to the experience considering how unenthusiastically they are shot and edited, with a finale played over the end credits the only time the staging has any kick to it. A sad misfire and an unfortunately missed opportunity.