Clint Eastwood’s output as of late has been pretty uneven: for every triumph (“Letters from Iwo Jima”), there’s a major disappointment (“J. Edgar”) or outright dud (“Hereafter”). When given great material, though, Eastwood can really make it shine, and there’s some potential in his adaptation of the hit musical “Jersey Boys,” which just released its first trailer.
Eastwood’s first musical as a director (following his aborted attempt to remake “A Star is Born” with Beyonce), “Jersey Boys” tells the story of the Four Seasons (later known as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) as they went from rags to riches, and as their personal troubles became greater, including debts, mob involvement, strained friendships, and Valli’s relationship with his troubled daughter.
The pedigree here is huge: the jukebox musical won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actor for John Lloyd Young (who reprises his role as Valli here). The original book for the stage version was written by frequent Woody Allen collaborator Marshall Brickman with Rick Elice, and was adapted for the screen by John Logan. The songs are killer, and Eastwood has enough strong films (including two Best Picture-winners, “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby”) on his resume to deserve some benefit of the doubt.
The trailer shows some signs of ingenuity: the stage monologues have been turned into fourth-wall breaks a la “Goodfellas” (an interesting choice, given that Joe Pesci is a minor character in the show; perhaps someone will finally ask him to get his shinebox?). And yet, the mixes for “Rag Doll,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Who Loves You” sound awfully tinny compared to the real thing (or even the stage versions), and it’s hard to say whether or not removing the material from the energy of a live setting will transform it into an average musician biopic. Cautious optimism might be the best way to go. Watch the trailer below.