How you feel about "Jersey Boys," the movie, is another matter. It's another example of how the finger snappin' urgency of live theater loses something when swallowed up by the bottled artifice of the movie screen.
Surely the chief pleasure of seeing "Jersey Boys" in person is the live music. Valli had a unique and distinctive voice, and seeing a performer recreate that on stage is part of the special magic of theater.
On film, where there are a billion layers of sophisticated recording technology between you and the performance, that magic is necessarily lost.
And what you're left with is a long-winded biopic (this thing runs way more than two hours) whose transparent Broadway origins leave it well back of more artful motion picture biographies like "Ray" and "Walk the Line."
"Jersey" starts out in North Jersey, where Valli (John Lloyd Young) is a middle-class kid singing in bars for band organized by a local hustler (Vincent Piazza), bankrolled by a local wiseguy (Christopher Walken), who keeps the band afloat until they find a talented songwriter (Erich Bergen) and the right record company producer (Mike Doyle, funny in this role).
Songs from Valli's vast catalogue of hits punctuate chapters in a standard life-on-the-road melodrama, where rivalries and tensions escalate to the point of breakup, followed by redemptive reunion (and some bad geriatric makeup) at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The movie could have paid more attention to the construction of the music, and much less to the embarrassingly underwritten roles of the women in the lives of the band members.
There are many shrill interludes of wives and girlfriends throwing furniture, voices building to a falsetto that somehow tops Valli's own.
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