I am a very big fan of live theater. I have seen some of the greatest stage productions of all time and cannot get enough of it. I am, however, very skeptical of film adaptations of popular stage musicals. The stage and the screen can be two very different animals - know what I'm saying Rock of Ages? I do get excited when I hear one is being adapted and one of my favorites is Jersey Boys. The story of The Four Seasons and how they came about. Just thinking that I could grab a copy of my own and watch this story whenever I wanted got me really excited. Did it hold up to its stage counterpart?
The songs they chose to showcase and the major parts of the story that they hit one were fantastic, but without the full story and music catalog this is a watered down version of the stage - but a great stand alone film.
Clint Eastwood has not failed yet on any projects that he has brought into our lives and this piece of art is no exception. The cinematography is beautiful to gaze upon and the sound editing makes you feel as if you are in the audience watching these 4 performers. Eastwood also gives us something that we have yet to see at the end of a musical - a lasting curtain call.
The movie brought together 4 performers from the actual stage musical to make it more of an authentic Broadway production. This shines during their musical performances and falls a bit flat during some of their non-singing performances. They actors mention the names of all the songs in the Broadway hit and they sometimes are playing on the radio, but are definitely not showcased as they are on stage.
If you have not seen the stage performance or even like Broadway then I think you will love this film and you will be singing/dancing in your seats. Christopher Walken brings some big acting chops to the screen and Clint backs up everything the actors are bringing to you.
As I said previously, as a stand alone film this is a great one, but if you are looking for the stage production, it's close, but not all there. Standing alone I would give this film a 90%. Go into the movie without a previous idea of what you are about to see and let it take you away. Let these actors take you back to a time that a lot of us romanticize with and wish we could have experienced. Let this movie educate you on 4 guys, standing underneath a street lamp trying to find their sound.
Put your cell phones away, don't chat with your neighbor, just be there - alone in the theater.