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One of the most popular Broadway musicals of the last 15 years makes the jump to movie screens. Directed by Clint Eastwood, who is known for making nicely drawn bio-pics about music and musicians, Jersey Boys charts the meteoric rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the doo-wop vocal group from Newark, NJ. In the name of not fixing what isn’t broken, Eastwood and the writers have kept the stagey-ness of the musical intact: characters routinely address the camera to narrate the story, adopting an Italian-American North Jersey swagger familiar to anyone who has watched The Sopranos or any number of Jersey-set gangster films. The accents, which sound to my ears more Brooklyn than Jersey (hey, I’m from Jersey, and there IS a difference, people), are there to remind us that the Four Seasons were all lower-middle-class kids from the unfriendly streets of a hard-luck town who made it to the very top of the music world—funny how that seems to happen a lot.
Liam Neeson, who seems to be everywhere these days, stars in Third Person, playing a writer who, naturally, moves through the world more as observer than as active participant. In one telling quote, an estranged lover tells him, “You’re in love with love—it’s people you have a problem with.” Ouch! The movie is notable for featuring a large number of beautiful women who are involved in relationships with less-than-attractive men. Beyond these good points, the film is otherwise a pretty somber affair, with a lot of fraught situations, anguished expressions and earnest conversations between troubled couples. Sound like fun? Also stars Maria Bello, Mila Kunis, Kim Basinger, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde and James Franco.
Think Like a Man Too
Vegas returns once again as the destination for all that is unholy and debauched in Think Like a Man Too. Just once, it would be nice if a film posited some other locale as being a suitable place to “get your freak on,” as the film puts it. After all, there are gambling casinos right in Connecticut. And there is prostitution just about everywhere. Anyway, Think Like a Man Too features diminutive funnyman Kevin Hart as the ringleader of a bunch of guys who, arriving with their girlfriends in Vegas, arrange for a “night off”—that is, 24 hours where they’re not responsible for their actions. Now, of course, the women get their own free pass as well, and so you can picture what happens: the women get up to more fun than the men, and the men turn out to be very bad sports about it. But the fun’s in getting there, right?