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Jersey Boys: The Movie and Reality

Even though I grew up in Belleville, I openly admit I’ve never seen Jersey Boys – neither on Broadway nor the movie… until tonight.

While dropping off my laptop for a repair, I noticed a pile for used DVDs for sale, one of which was Jersey Boys. I figured I would pick it up and finally check it out.

I’ll admit, I have mixed opinions.

The opening shot with “Belleville, New Jersey,” brought a smile to my face. And the shots of Stephen Crane Village, where Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, better known as Frankie Valli, grew up had me thinking immediately of my Uncle Sonny. He worked there his entire life as a maintenance man and would sometimes tell us about talking to Mrs. Castelluccio during the day.

Stephen Crane Village
Stephen Crane Village (Source: Five Wards Media; William Hunt 2022 Winter Reporting Fellow)

Then I heard the voice of the actor playing Tommy DeVito. Ugh.

There is little that irritates me more than an over-exaggeration of an Italian Jersey accent. Yes, I am aware we have an accent. But if you do a search of “generic goomba Jersey Italian,” dollars to donuts it will sound exactly the actor that played DeVito. It is incredibly annoying and stereotypical. I watched the film credits and it was completely filmed in California. I mean, did they even come and check out Belleville and Newark at all? Listen to how we actually speak?

And just for the record, we do not say “Joisey.”

I was very close to turning it off when they finally started to get to the music.

I was immediately transported to my childhood. Sitting on the floor of my Uncle Sonny’s bedroom upstairs on our house on Irving street listening to Four Seasons records with him and he let me play my favorite songs over and over again. I was fairly repetitious when it came to music. If you don’t believe me, ask my family how many times in a row I could play Rhinestone Cowboy and Kiss an Angel Good Morning. Yes, I was an odd kid.

But anyway, back to The Four Seasons.

My Uncle would let me play those records over and over and over again. Without a bit of argument.

When “My Mother’s Eyes” was performed during the movie, I immediately held my breath and thought of my Uncle Chubby. I did chuckle when they showed Christopher Walken (portraying Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo) tearing up as Valli sang the tune and told him “that was my mother’s favorite song.” My Uncle Chubby would always sing that for my Grandmother.

I forgot how many songs were theirs. Every time a new song was played, I would, of course, say “oh this one is my favorite.” My husband finally said, “I think they are all your favorite.”

Of course he’s right.

All in all, it was a pretty good movie. I wish they had done a little better production with it. But it still transported me. It made me smile. And I guess that’s all that matters.

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