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Rated R (MPAA) · 134 min. · 2014

“How old are you?” Frankie Valli is asked early on in Jersey Boys. John Lloyd Young, who turns 39 this week and plays Valli through the whole movie, answers “16,” but Lee Strasberg himself couldn’t help the actor say it with conviction. That’s just one of the problems with Clint Eastwood’s tepid, shapeless, stakeless version of the Broadway musical, which barely has any songs and doesn’t stage a full number until the very end, two hours way too late. A typically signpost-laden musical biopic about the rise and fall of Valli and the Four Seasons, Jersey Boys is peppered with unfamiliar faces---save Christopher Walken, a delight and a hoot who’s wandered in from another movie altogether---which can work sometimes but gives you nothing to hold onto or root for here. Women are practically non-existent, and the ones with speaking roles are harpy drunk wives and nagging mothers. There’s a roving narrator structure in which characters talk directly to the camera that writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice probably thought was a seamless, efficient storytelling device, but is better suited to the stage, which only has three walls. Walken’s Jersey gangster tells Valli he’s got one big neighbourhood favour to spend in his lifetime---apparently someone called in Eastwood’s. —Tara Thorne
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Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Marshall Brickman
Cast: Christopher Walken, Vincent Piazza, Freya Tingley, Francesca Eastwood, Kathrine Narducci, James Madio and Mike Doyle


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