Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-27
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Knight at the Movies: Jersey Boys; film notes
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

About an hour into Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the jukebox musical sensation Jersey Boys, the introduction of a gay character into the showbiz story of The Four Seasons changes this quasi-musical into a full-blown one. At last, the real emphasis is on the music—the songs, performances, the recordings; the process that helped elevate this early 1960s singing quartet into legendary status. Okay, so the character—Bob Crewe ( essayed by Mike Doyle ), the quartet's producer and sometimes lyricist who refined their sound and brought them to the top of the charts with songs like "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Big Girls Don't Cry"—is portrayed as an over-the-top stereotype ( complete with limp wrist, mincing moves and derogatory cracks likening him to Liberace ). Stereotypes aside, the Bob Crewe character also finally brings to the movie something that was apparently a hallmark of the Broadway musical it's based on and has been missing here: pizazz.

Up until that point, the story—as laid out in Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice's script ( who also did the book for the Broadway musical )—focuses on the close ties of the group with some rather unsavory underworld types not unfamiliar to fans of The Sopranos and The Godfather. ( The movie is like Goodfellas with songs thrown in for the hell of it. ) Everyone claims to have a fascination with the "angelic" falsetto vocal stylings of lead singer Frankie Valli ( John Lloyd Young, who played the role onstage ), but we learn nothing about where Valli's talent sprang from, how he came to sing in said falsetto and whether he was razzed for sounding like a girl ( something he surely had to overcome ). Most importantly, we have not heard a vocal from Young that is worthy of all the praise. ( the decision to perform the songs live is one of the film's major missteps. )

Nor do we see much passion for music beyond the standard biopic trappings by Valli and his cohorts, easily the world's oldest cinematic teenagers ( Stockard Channing in Grease aside ) when first glimpsed in 1951 slogging away in the showbiz trenches. Instead, Eastwood emphasizes those mob ties and the differences between Valli—he with an apparent innocence to be protected at all costs—and his wised-up pal with the wiseguy connections, Tommy DeVito ( Boardwalk Empire's Vincent Piazza ). The most prominent connection is Gyp DeCarlo ( a very funny Christopher Walken, the local mob boss ).

Fellow goombah Nick Massi ( Michael Lomeda ), the group's bass vocalist, is of zero interest. Although the arrival of the nerdish Bob Gaudio ( Erich Bergen ), who writes the hit melodies that finally elevate the group from their round of Jersey one nighters to the big time, is fun with his fish-out-of-water elements, it's really not until the aforementioned gay, gay, gay Bob Crewe enters the picture that the dry, longwinded and completely wrongheaded movie finally ramps up a bit—but only for a bit.

The slack pacing ( matched by the dishwater brown and muted purples of the cinematography—the antithesis of what a musical like this one needs ) is then replaced by a series of increasingly melodramatic, disconnected scenes ( slices of Valli's fractious personal life that are presented with little or no subtext ), culminating in the group's disintegration, which is hastened by the revelation that Tommy's put the group's finances at risk, with "the boys" wanting their dough, or else. After years of working off the debt Valli's comeback hit, his solo recording of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" ( whose lyrics were reportedly penned as a tribute to Crewe's boyfriend ) becomes the movie's 11 o'clock number ( perhaps the only song in the history of movie musicals where the horn section upstages the vocals ).

During the film's coda—set in 1990, when the group is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—when Frankie avers that it was "all about the music" you think, "Gee, I'd like to have seen that movie cause this one sure wasn't." Then we proceed to an end-credit montage with the entire cast, in true Broadway fashion, beltin' out a batch of Four Seasons hits that finally is all about the music. Ironically, as the credits are rolling, Eastwood finally deigns to elevate the music and the energy to a level that the preceding 137 minutes could have desperately used.

While Jersey Boys isn't exactly a must-see movie for showtune queens like myself ( and now I don't feel so bad missing the stage version ), there are a lot of other queer-tinged movie musicals out there to get one in the mood for Pride. A few suggestions would include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Mamma Mia! As for some great backstage '60s-set musicals, look no further than Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Ray and, yes, even Kevin Spacey's labor of love, his Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea that, in retrospect, is a much better movie than Jersey Boys.

Film notes:

—Renowned actor Kevin Kline—Oscar winner for his hilarious performance in A Fish Called Wanda, star of the gay-themed comedy In & Out and the featured actor as legendary gay composer Cole Porter in De-Lovely, among dozens of other film roles ( Dave, Sophie's Choice, Soapdish, Grand Canyon, Cry Freedom among them )—is being honored with a career achievement award from the Chicago International Film Festival ( CIFF ) at its summer gala on Saturday, June 28, at the Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Pl. The lavish evening, a fundraiser for CIFF that is celebrating its 50th year, begins at 6 p.m. with red-carpet arrivals and will include an in-depth, clip-laden discussion with Kline about his storied career.

—The group Pride Films and Plays ( PFP ) is presenting the third annual Queer Bits Film Festival Monday, June 30, at the Pub Theatre, 3914 N. Clark St., with doors at 6:30 p.m. and screenings at 7:30 p.m.. The fest includes eight shorts and three episodes of locally produced Web series—all receiving their Chicago premieres.

David Zak, executive director of the organization, describes the line-up as including everything from "a sexy comedy about two straight actors stripping down to rehearse a gay love scene, a touching and truthful story of a father and son trying to reconnect in the wake of a traumatic experience, a light-hearted documentary about a lesbian couple trying their hand at filmmaking, and a powerful and action-packed drama about two young men fighting for love in an institution waging war on homosexuality." PFP ensemble member Tom Chiola is featured in one of the films in the line-up, A Heart Felt.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Billy Masters 2020-05-27 - "Hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people started long before Trump and Pence took office. Defeating them will not solve the problem, but it ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rufus Wainwright, LGBTQ films, Billy Porter, Janelle Monae 2020-05-27 - Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright unveiled the latest single from his eagerly anticipated new pop album, Unfollow the Rules, a press release noted. "Alone ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Idol' alum, PBS series, LGBT film, concert series, Bad Bunny 2020-05-18 - Openly gay American Idol alum David Hernandez has premiered his new song—"Sorry"—and the accompanying music video, a press release noted. "Sorry" is described ...

Gay News

'Matrix' co-creator cites Chicago LGBTQ organization in tweet 2020-05-18 - Matrix co-creator Lilly Wachowski cited Chicago LGBTQ organization Brave Space Alliance in a tweet, Variety noted. The transgender director was not happy ...

Gay News

FILM Eric Rosen, from About Face to the movie 'Netuser' 2020-05-13 - Eric Rosen is entering the world of movies with his short-film thriller, Netuser. However, theater fans in the Midwest, and especially Chicago, will ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2020-05-13 - "Billy, you are a new find of mine. I'm now your biggest fan."—Paul Shaffer—yes, THAT Paul Shaffer—after showing up to surprise my guest, ...

Gay News

MOVIE REVIEW 'A Secret Love' shines for a new generation 2020-05-13 - Netflix's new documentary A Secret Love is the story of a relationship between two lesbians named Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel that began ...

Gay News

NUNN ON ONE DRAG Eureka O' Hara,'Here' and now 2020-05-12 - Born in Johnson City, Tennessee, David Huggard transformed into drag personality Eureka O'Hara and began performing in the local gay club called New ...

Gay News

MOVIES Young gay filmmaker debuts LGBT romantic drama 2020-05-12 - A gay Massachusetts-based filmmaker will release his new LGBT-themed feature film, which he produced for the unheard-of sum of $400, to YouTube in ...

Gay News

Gene Siskel Film Center to host virtual movie trivia 2020-05-12 - CHICAGO—As the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago continues to offer streamed programming through its Film ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.