Monday Morning Critic – Clint Eastwood, Jersey Boys And The Three Tasks of The Movie Musical That Action Movies Have

MMC

Out of all the films of 2014 the one that has left me the most interested on a purely artistic level is Jersey Boys. I enjoy movie musicals, of course, and the fact that Jersey Boys is finally coming to the big screen was something intriguing. Considering Eastwood is a first timer for the genre as a director, after having tried to do a remake of A Star Is Born with Beyonce Knowles for years (and having it fall through multiple times), it’s an interesting choice.

Previously he starred in Paint Your Wagon, which sounds like a super violent western tagged with “He painted his wagon … with BLOOD!” but really was a stage musical turned film starring Eastwood and Lee Marvin. Kind of odd that two of cinema’s most legendary tough guy action heroes were in a movie musical, singing and dancing instead of shooting, but those are the weird quirks in any actor’s career if you go back far enough. Russell Crowe was a minor Australian celebrity as a musician eons before his acting career took off; thus it’s not all that odd in many aspects.

The thing going into this is that Eastwood has a lot of challenges as a first time director in the genre. He’s always been an actor’s director, so to speak, as he wants to make his film as efficiently as possible. Eastwood’s a director who values being on time, and under budget, more than most. It’s why he’s so valued in Hollywood these days. In the modern studio system, where profitability is a profound concern,

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Plenty of directors can’t deliver on time and at the cost quoted, like a bad contractor you hire to build a gazebo in your backyard and winds up finishing it right as the summer ends. I mean yeah it’s done and looks so good your neighbors praise it, plus you can afford the extra $500 he wants, but do you really want to reward him for not doing the job he promised?

Doug Liman is the guy that does that kind of work, at least based on the anecdotal notes and rumors that span the industry of cinema. Eastwood’s the guy who builds that gazebo, delivers it on time and that’s why he’s become beloved by many studio heads. It’s why he doesn’t have much of a problem getting the projects he wants underway; you can trust that the $50 million you have budgeted for him will be all he needs.

And there haven’t been any rumors of set problems, et al, which is a good sign that the film’s as of yet unreleased production cost wasn’t exceeded. It would be a first for Eastwood, who mostly cast a bunch of relative unknowns and Christopher Walken for a period piece. Budgetary concerns aside Eastwood has three big problems to worry about when it comes to making a movie musical the first time. In many ways they are some of the same problems a director would have with a big budget action film. Call it Clint’s Trio Of Shenanigans To Deal With For Jersey Boys.

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1. Big set pieces

A big action film lives, and dies, on its big action sequences. Among the best action films we remember their action sequences the most. T2: Judgment Day is a great film for a lot of reasons, but Arnold with a mini-gun vs. the LAPD remains a brilliant bit that more people remember than not. The big finale of The Avengers, with the heroes vs. aliens for New York, is the one thing people raved about en masse coming out of that film. I thought the film sucked and was the sort of film Michael Bay would make about the subject … but even I thought that was a brilliant bit of film-making.

Big music numbers are the same for movie musicals. It can make a film, like Anne Hathaway’s solo in Les Miserables … or break it, ala Idina Menzel in Rent. The former was the “OMG give her all the Oscars” moment for Hathaway. The latter (the big protest) falls flat on the big screen and derails the film in significant ways. So seeing Eastwood put together a big music number should be interesting; he’s had experience directing action sequences.

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2. Adapting stage material to the big screen

Adapting a play is difficult for the big screen in a lot of ways. The big one is that a play doesn’t have to be cinematic; it has to work effectively for an audience within spitting distance. You can get away with certain things in a theatre when it comes to a play because of the limited space. On the big screen, though, things have to be changed because it’s a movie.

It’s the same way with comic books that get turned into films. Things have to be changed to make them work as a film, et al, and it’ll be interesting to see how Eastwood changes up a profoundly successful stage play into a film.

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3. Getting the right cast

Action films live, and die, based on the chemistry of their cast. A cast that works well together can elevate a film … and one without it will crash and burn. Considering half the cast of this film isn’t notable enough to have Wikipedia pages, and Eastwood isn’t known as the type of director that gives his casts enough takes to really dive into the material. Thus getting good chemistry in a film that demands it will be interesting, to say the least.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

You want the best analysis in Hollywood? Nikki Finke’s non compete with Deadline Hollywood is done and her website is live. Give her a click and bookmark it.

Travis also crushes the week in box office, right here.

Last week I reviewed A Million Ways to Die in the West, which wasn’t that good. 22 Jump Street was a bit better.

Brendan Campbell took apart Jack Ryan and Travis used the phrase “awkward climax” in a film about teenagers. Heh. Not quite as funny as when I did a pub trivia game with a group of friends under the ground name “I just pooped” … we stayed for the whole game because it was stupidly funny to hear the quizmaster say “I just pooped.”

And now on MMC … it came from the ‘90s. Seriously … this was a hit song in 1999. I remember listening to this song in the bars during college, when Bill Clinton was President. The bass line and beat are excellent … but it’s really aged poorly. Think about THAT when you complain about how people have no taste in music recently.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Jersey Boys – Clint Eastwood presents the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

See It – It’s been a hit on Broadway and Eastwood doing a friggin’ musical … that is interesting on its face alone.

Think Like a Man Too – The characters from the first film get married in Vegas or something?

Skip It – This looks like Couples Therapy meets The Hangover as a Kevin Hart vehicle. Yeah … don’t think so.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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