“Tick, Tick… Boom!” Explodes Onto Netflix


Source: TV Insider

Mason Glod

Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Main Cast: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin De Jesús
Run Time: 115 minutes
Rating: 4/5

2021 is a year filled with movie musicals. “Tick, Tick… Boom” manages to stand apart from the rest.

“Tick, Tick… Boom!” is the film adaptation of the off-Broadway musical of the same name. The autobiographical musical was created by Jonathan Larson, the legendary playwright who went on to write “Rent.” The show tells the story of the week in Larson’s life just before his 30th birthday. He struggles with work pressures, relationship troubles, and a full-blown existential crisis.

The movie adaptation of “Tick, Tick… Boom” is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda in his directorial debut. Miranda has expressed that this story is deeply personal to him, with Larson’s story heavily mirroring Miranda’s own life. This connection can be clearly seen throughout the film – Miranda assembles a visually impressive film with a unique style at the level of an experienced filmmaker.

The film is anchored by an impressive performance by Andrew Garfield playing Jonathan Larson himself. Garfield plays Larson honestly and fully, unafraid to show the audience Larson’s genius and flaws. As a result, the film truly is Garfield’s movie, with almost every scene centered around his character. His performance supports the entire film, quickly earning him a spot in the Oscars conversation.

The supporting cast does excellent work but inevitably gets less time to shine. Robin De Jesús as Larson’s best friend Micheal, does an impressive job with particularly impactful scenes in the third act. As Larson’s love interest Susan, Alexandra Shipp plays a complex character in a complicated relationship beautifully; her chemistry (and purposeful lack thereof) with Garfield provides crucial insight into his character. Other standouts include Bradley Whitford as Stephen Sondheim and Joanna P. Adler as Larson’s agent Molly, both of whom flawlessly execute the very few scenes given. Finally, “High School Musical” fans will be happy to see Vanessa Hudgens return to the spotlight. While her singing skills are still intact, her few scenes are incredibly inconsequential.

The music in the film is generally great, with some songs more memorable than others. The opening song “30/90” provides a natural and thorough introduction to the story. “Boho Days” clearly establishes the talent of Larson while also being one of the most fun and catchy songs of the film. “Therapy” is a highlight of the film; Miranda mixes this song with a particularly intense scene, simultaneously creating one of the funniest and heartbreaking moments in the movie. The final song, “Louder Than Words,” is an impressive tune that creates a fantastic atmosphere. All the music is well-written and extremely well- performed, especially by Andrew Garfield, who is not normally known for his singing ability.

While the film does a lot right, it is not without its flaws. The film’s unique style and storytelling choices make the start of the film a bit inaccessible – it takes a few scenes to understand how Miranda is telling this story. Additionally, the film’s heavy focus on Garfield certainly minimizes the effect of the supporting characters. Also, while a nitpick, the few visual effects in this film are noticeably not well done. Perhaps the film’s biggest flaw is its lack of a clear message – it seems like Miranda assumes the audience will understand the message of the film when the credits roll. While the final song, “Louder Than Words,” is undoubtedly musically impressive, it introduces so many new ideas and themes to the film that it ultimately blurs the movie’s point.

Still, “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is a fun, fresh movie in a crowded film landscape. It is clear that the project is a love letter to Jonathan Larson and certainly honors his life and accomplishments. The movie is made by musical theater lovers for musical theater lovers – the film embraces and celebrates the medium in an extremely fun way. While not perfect, “Tick, Tick… Boom” is certainly worth watching for the spirit behind it alone.