Clint Eastwood’s other film for 2014. Is he speeding up his output at the age of 84, or just rattling them off before mind & body give out? Heck, post-AMERICAN SNIPER/’14, he can probably do whatever the hell he wants. That said, this adaptation of B’way’s still-running ‘Jukebox’ Musical about Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons feels as if it were rushed into production, much like his previous directing gig on J. EDGAR/’11. It’s okay, just not quite ready for taping. There’s one major shift in it, not in tone, but in format; altering the presentation to drama-with-songs, and only sampling the Jukebox Musical form during a rousing closing-credits medley. There, its brightened color palette and street-style choreography make for an audience pleasing encore, but could it have worked for the whole film? Hard to say, but this drab, predictable drama of ‘mooks’ brought together, then torn apart by commercial success & overreach, needs all the stylized touches it can muster. There’s a lift each time one of the boys looks to the camera and breaks the ‘fourth wall’ with character info or story exposition. It helps camouflage the derivative feel of the storyline and those Brill Building ‘Pop’ pablum songs, that Dick Clark-approved soundtrack that nearly killed Rock & Roll in the Post-young Elvis-early R&B/Pre-British Invasion-MOTOWN era. So, when we hear a record exec deride Valli’s comeback solo as ‘that art song,’ and it turns out to be the Bobby Darin-like ‘You’re Just Too Good To Be True,’ you kinda know where you’re standing.
DOUBLE-BILL: It’s been a while, but THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY/’78 was long considered tops in this category. (It’s a film you remember with affection, but are probably wise not to revisit.)
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Five 2014 trailers on this DVD: THE JUDGE; HORRIBLE BOSSES 2; TAMMY; EDGE OF TOMORROW; GODZILLA - and not an original idea in the bunch. Apparently, EoT plays better than its GROUNDHOG DAY-meets-DISTRICT 9 trailer looks. But what a sorry lot!, with the sentimental story-beats of THE JUDGE scraping bottom in faux quality product.