So I have a system about what movies I see. I combine the critical rating (not the RT score, but the aggregate critic rating) from Rotten Tomatoes with the public score from IMDB to create an aggregate critic/public score. If it's above a certain point, I'll endeavour to see a movie. This movie hovered right above that point and I waited weeks in hopes it would fall below it and I could ignore the film. But no, it hung, stubbornly, at the very bottom of my radar. So I went and saw it.
Boy, it's pretty bad. I mean, it is NOT good. I will admit to being pleasantly surprised by the first hour or so. The film has a lot of energy as it's detailing the formation of the Four Seasons and their rise to fame. It's not a new story, but it's told with some energy and the music sequences really do work. But unfortunately, after that initial hour, there's still an hour and a quarter to go and it is hard slogging. The group starts to fracture via some drama that is painfully manufactured; "Nothing Frankie suggests is ever good enough for you," one member snaps at another during one protracted argument. Well, fine, but . . . there has been no evidence of such a conflict between said member and Frankie to this point. This member has never been seen putting down Frankie's ideas or even referred to as doing that in the previous hour. And the movie does this repeatedly, over and over and over. Suddenly, Frankie's daughter wants to be a singer and the movie acts like we should know this when it hasn't even mentioned it or even given the daughter more than five minutes of screen time prior to this big scene where she and Frankie clash over her career choices. It's brutally annoying.
And the cast starts to fall apart. Michael Lomenda and Vincent Piazza are actually pretty good in their roles, but when the group breaks up (with around an hour still to go), the movie decides to focus on Frankie and Bob, played by John Lloyd Young and Erich Bergen who are legitimately the worst actors in the cast. Frankly (no pun intended), John Lloyd Young is awful as Frankie and if your Frankie Valli doesn't work in a movie about Frankie Valli, you're dead. The energy and the ensemble kind of mask this in the first hour, but when he takes center stage in the last hour, it's painfully obvious that he's just awful. A word for three very small parts; Mike Doyle plays a gay character and it's one of the best performances as a gay character I've ever seen - he gives the character some gay affectations, but keeps them really minimal so that you know he's gay, but it's never campy or silly. Renee Marino gives the most over the top performance I've ever seen as Frankie's man-eating wife and, rather than being bad, it's really quite entertaining. And Christopher Walken - he actually gives a solid, mostly minimal performance here that is in no way phoned in or cliched; good for him.
But, yeah . . . this is Below Average. As in Strongly Recommended Against. * 1/2 stars.