Directors: Clint Eastwood
Cast: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lamenda, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken
Running Time: 134 minutes
Release Date: 20th June 2014
The story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons has long been a Broadway musical charting the life and times of Valli. Following the stage show plot closely, the story starts with the young Valli, then known as Castellucio, focusing on his failed attempts as a street hustler and his transition to lead singer of a major foursome that would release some very memorable hits. In the beginning Valli was a good singer, but he lacked the hits to make him break the main stream until long time collaborator Bob Gaudio joined the group. With Gaudio’s intelligent song writing the group had a real opportunity and when an old friend takes a chance on recording the foursome, they strike it lucky. The only problem is the band manager/member Tommy, who is not doing an appropriate job of managing the band’s income and when it turns sour, it’s left to Valli to clean up the mess.
It’s a real pity that this effort falls down as it does, but it is weak in so many aspects that it is an utter disappointment.
The cast are the first stickling point as they fail to ever hammer home the joy in reaching the lofty heights of the Ed Sullivan show or the true anger that their characters were all carrying as the band fell apart. One scene alone, when everything comes to a head, is executed to a decent standard. The only thing is that it’s mostly enjoyable because of Walken’s sharp inputs rather than the foursome’s hammed up acting. The lead actor Lloyd Young is a quality singer, and has played Valli on Broadway, but he is not a strong screen presence and he continually struggles to deliver; he’s rather cardboard. As mentioned already, Walken has one great scene and across the board he delivers in every aspect, but he probably stands out because he is surrounded by mediocrity.
The one sure bet amidst the stuttering script and crappy acting should be the music but it never really goes for the full musical treatment, choosing instead to run with a drama come musical approach. Not focusing on this one strength when using such an unknown and rather weak cast is the films biggest mistake. Actually it’s not. Its biggest mistake is making most every scene feel like some sort of Italian-American parody sketch. The Eddie Murphy Raw sketch about Italians watching Rocky movies springs to mind.
Credit should go to Lloyd Young when it comes to the music, he didn’t win that Tony Award for nothing, the man does a mean Frankie Valli impression and he delivers the songs brilliantly. But as already stated, they just don’t use the music enough.
It looks fantastic and sounds amazing – when they manage to shoe horn a song in there – but Walken aside the cast are weak and it never manages to grab your attention. Unlike Lloyd Young’s vocals, the whole thing is flat and lacking punch.