Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rapid Reviews: 22 Jump Street and Jersey Boys

Last week I unveiled friend and guest writer Greg Rouleau's opinion on 22 Jump Street. He gave a ringing endorsement for co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's return to the franchise. Since my recent wedding and honeymoon have delayed my movie-watching schedule, I spent the last 24 hours catching up on a few major titles. And unlike Greg, I found 22 Jump Street to be a misguided follow-up to its successful first installment.

While I enjoyed the feature's plot lines regarding Jenko's new BFF "Zook" and the back-story regarding Schmidt's latest love interest, 22 Jump Street is an otherwise laugh-less and self mocking farce. Channing Tatum's dimwitted character generated memorable bone-headed laughs in the last movie, however, his idiocy reaches annoying heights with massive frequency. Furthermore, as for the latest effort's fascination with addressing the makings of a franchise, the straightforward manor in which the directors broach this topic is tasteless and ineffective.

As a fan of its predecessor, 22 Jump Street unfolded in disappointing fashion. What was clearly one of 2014's most anticipated features ends up being just another flat and hollow sequel. There are plenty of other options worth checking out in theatres, I suggest choosing them.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

Another film recently reviewed by Greg Rouleau was Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys. While he tabbed the Broadway musical turned a major motion picture as a hard-fought "B-", I found it a little less amusing. Perhaps my admiration for the musical is what spawns an elevated level of disappointment. Fans of the show are guaranteed to be let down by Eastwood's stamp on the story.

With outstretched first and third acts that incorporate a minimal amount of musical performances from The Four Seasons, Eastwood lets it be known that he's making a film. Unlike Tom Hooper's Oscar Nominated Les Miserables and other modern musical adaptations that operate closely to their originals, Jersey Boys picks and chooses its similarities with the Broadway show. Therefore, the overbearing background which consumes the feature's first hour and creates an excruciating opening portion. Once The Four Seasons finally get into the swing of things and the on-stage performances remind us of everything we loved about the musical, it's too late to salvage.

I was disappointed in much of the acting, especially from newbies John Lloyd Young (as Frankie Valli) and Erich Bergen (as Bob Gaudio). It's always a risky decision to cast unknowns in vital roles and, unfortunately for Eastwood, the choice proves to be detrimental to the final product. Fans of the musical should be warned that, with Jersey Boys, an unsatisfying experience lies ahead.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C

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