It might as well be faced — Clint Eastwood‘s Jersey Boys is looking at choppy if not rough seas from a critical perspective. And, if you believe the tracking, from a commercial perspective also. But let’s stick to the critical for now. Not that anyone is rooting for a flop. Eastwood’s reluctance to direct a standard uptempo jukebox musical deserves respect. But you can smell the discomfort out there.
On one hand, TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde says that “if you’re a fan of harmonic 1960s pop, or cars with fins, Jersey Boys will provide a nice evening out at the movies. It’s nice. It’s entertaining. It’s pleasant. It’s all the positive adjectives that mean ‘not terrible but ultimately negligible.’ It fulfills the duties of a jukebox musical: it works in the hits, and it casts singers who make those hits sound virtually identical to the original versions. What the movie doesn’t do is answer the question, ‘Why did I just spend 134 minutes watching the Frankie Valli episode of Behind the Music?'”
On the somewhat more compassionate side, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy writes that “a dash of showbiz pizzazz has been lost but some welcome emotional depth has been gained. If the ultimate aim of the Broadway musical version was to get the audience on its feet for the final feel-good medley, Eastwood goes for a more mixed mood, combining the joy of the music with what Valli, in particular, lost and cold never regain. Still, commercial uncertainties attach to the potential interest of young viewers unfamiliar with the band and [a] musical milieu of a half-century ago.”
Laughed out loud at this McCarthy observation: “Very occasionally, however, the feeling of the studio backlot is inescapable, and there are a couple of Jersey neighborhood vistas that simply look too California, including one with mountains visible in the far background.”