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Movie Review

Jersey Boys

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout.

Reviewed by: John Decker

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Musical Biography Drama Adaptation
2 hr. 14 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
June 20, 2014 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

rags to riches, and back to rags

music in the Bible

How accurate is the movie?


Featuring: Christopher WalkenAngelo 'Gyp' DeCarlo
Francesca Eastwood … Waitress
Freya Tingley … Francine Valli
James Madio … Stosh
Billy Gardell … Actor
Kathrine Narducci … Mary Rinaldi
Mike Doyle … Bob Crewe
John Lloyd Young … Frankie Valli
Sean Whalen … Engineer
Vincent Piazza … Tommy DeVito
Steve Schirripa … Vito
more »
Director: Clint Eastwood
Producer: GK Films
RatPac Entertainment
more »
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

If you expect a film about the history of a Rock ‘n’ Roll band to have more than plenty of foul language, every color of blasphemous terminology and a bit of mostly non-graphic violence, “Jersey Boys” will not surprise you.

This is one of those films that would work pretty well with a language filter, except the sexual references are somewhat frequent and not necessarily shrouded in curse words. It is, of course, no secret that sexuality is core to the story of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This movie indulges in many sexual imaginations, but I must say I was surprised at the lack of flesh. There is little of it—little or no heavy kissing, no nudity, no necking, just quite a bit of talk and a few tight dresses.

One character is a flagrant homosexual, and some of his sexual proclivities are made reference to more than once. His effeminacy is of milder proportion than characters from other films with similar roles—namely the role of quasi intellectual, talented, quick witted, gay artist. Think of Robin William’s brother in Mrs. Doubtfire. This character is a more groomed, masculine looking, more subtle version of such flamboyancy. My guess is this is not far at all from a true music producer of the 1950’s and 60’s. Violence-wise, there is a point blank shooting at one point in the film which is loud but not highly graphic. There are tempers, arguments, pushes and occasional strikes but not a whole lot of violence.

I do believe “Jersey Boys” is an accurate portrayal of Rock ‘n’ Roll history. If history interests you, or if you like Broadway plays, you’ll likely enjoy this film which is based on a play by the same name. The film is intriguing and has a good sense of humor.

It is also a tragic and accurate portrayal of what life on the road, not just with Rock artists, will do to a family. This film strengthened my resolve that families cannot be apart for long without growing apart. Even being on the road together, though it certainly poses particular difficulties, is not so unprescribed in Scripture as to be away from them. To abandon the primary blessing of family, a clear and present gift from God, except out of complete necessity, is foolish.

Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. (Psalm 128:1-3)

“Jersey Boys” has a lot of value, in between the frequent f-bombs and lewd sexual references. It glorifies the music without glorifying the certainly less-than-glorious lives. Director Clint Eastwood certainly shows his cinematic talent in this film. I expect it to not be surpassed soon as a solid portrayal of what was formed in an a little Italian community, what became a large slice of American history and changed the course of music the world over.

Violence: Mild to moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I am giving this movie 5 for its artistic and technical quality. It is flawless as cinematic art. The screenplay is intelligent and the story well told. The casting and acting are fantastic and I enjoyed this movie immensely. Not one stupid or boring moment. I do not hesitate to recommend “Jersey Boys” to a Christian audience.

Of course, there is foul language. The movie deserves the R rating for the language and for some sexual situations. But these negative elements come with the territory of telling this true story about a rock and roll band in the late 50s and early 60s. Cinema helps us understand all the corners of our world, not just the pristine life that we want it to be or try to live ourselves. Spiritually mature people will recognize the tragedy and suffering that these performers brought upon themselves. Their self-destructive activities are not glorified or white-washed, at all.

I grew up hearing the Four Seasons on radio, so I found the movie a fascinating explanation of their life story. Just to end this note, I actually danced a bit as I left the theater room.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Halyna Barannik, age 68 (USA)
Negative—The movie is just as offensive to Christians as the Broadway play. Filled with obscenities and profanities, it is a horrendous and disturbing tribute to a music genre many of us loved growing up. Any Christian who goes and does not walk out needs to consider their walk with Christ.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Bob Johnson, age 70 (USA)
Positive—As a committed Christian, I very much disagree with the pompous and sanctimonious comments of the previous reviewer (“if you didn’t get up and walk out, you’re not a Christian”). I thought it was an excellent movie and was extremely well-cast. There were elements of humour, mixed with elements of sorrow, combined with a first rate story line. It sure took me back to my teen years growing up in the 60’s. Both my wife and I gave it a 10 out of 10 and consider it to be a “buyer”—i.e., when it comes out on DVD, we’ll be adding it to our library.

Yeah, there was some cussing and some sex. So what? That was part of life back then, just as it is today. I’d highly recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Don Bryant, age 64 (Canada)
Movie Critics

…one of the year’s best… You couldn’t ask for a more meticulous depiction of the ’50s… a familiar story, yes — but rarely told this well and with this much heart and soul. [3½4]
—Lou Lumenick, New York Post

…Jersey Boys is entertainingly told, yet is a more traditional film than are many Eastwood-directed works. Most outstanding is the acting, especially John Lloyd Young, who won a Tony for originating the Frankie Valli role on Broadway. … [2½5]
—Louis Black, The Austin Chronicle

…Sweet but sordid, a darker take on music that’s usually identified with a more carefree, wholesome era. …
—Christian Hamaker, Crosswalk

…A dash of showbiz pizzazz has been lost but some welcome emotional depth has been gained in the big-screen version of the still-thriving theatrical smash “Jersey Boys.”…
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

…A bubblegum dream popped… flat-as-a-platter adaptation… [1½/4]
—Geoff Pevere, The Globe and Mail

…Clint Eastwood film is must-see for Frankie Valli fans… At its best, “Jersey Boys” moves and grooves like a musical “Goodfellas,” but it can also be as exasperating as a scratched-up LP. Just when it finds its rhythm, it misses a beat.[2½/4]
—Rafer Guzmán, Long Island Newsday

…musical, violent and quirky. With its ingredients of Goodfellas-like hostility, backstage egos running amuck, and on-the-road adultery…
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review

…reinforces the sense that all’s well that ends well. Such is the magical lie of movies. …The foul language they included here is the biggest drawback. Some of the sexual situations are more than just a little discomforting. …
—Paul Asay, Plugged In

…well-made… JERSEY BOYS is marred by intense vulgarity and poor lifestyle choices. No redemption is offered in this morality tale. …
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

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