Starring: Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Danny Pino, Colton Ryan, Amandla Stenberg, and ink Dodani,
Directed By Stephen Chbosky
Where I Watched it: Apple VOD
English Audio Description Available? Yes
The Plot: Based on the Tony winning musical about a despondent youth (Platt) who after a chance encounter with a classmate (Ryan), who shortly after ends up committing suicide, is thrown into a complicated world of white lies and blurred lines that continue to get out of control.
What Works: So the source material is strong. I loved hearing so many of the songs here, and especially Ben Platt. I know there’s this huge debate about his age, but screw it. He created this role. he made it special. And when he brings that same level to this film, he becomes the strongest asset. If they made a Hamilton movie (a real one) wouldn’t you want the original cast?
Frankly, it’s sad that this fil got so much hate because he’s so good. I’m not sure that he would have gotten an Oscar nomination, but a Golden Globe nod for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, sure. The rest of the cast is surprisingly strong. Everyone has a moment. Stenberg’s character is given a lot more to do in the movie than she has in the stage show. They wrote new songs for her character, which really weren’t that memorable, but allowed her to have a more fully realized character.
I liked the way all the music sounded organic and not overproduced. When in The Heights came out, it sounded like everyone was in a music production studio, and they engineered the shit out of it. Here, when characters just start singing, it has a natural quality to it that transitions much better.
Some people have a problem with Evan being a sympathetic character, and those people probably never liked the stage show, so why would you try the movie out? Do you think they radically reinvented Evan Hansen/ They didn’t.
What Doesn’t Work: The film is an adaptation, and just like the In The Heights film, Dear Evan Hansen felt the need to change what already worked. Here, I’ll be honest and say that most of the changes worked. i didn’t miss most of the cut songs, and they didn’t really change the flow. But the new songs were dull, so what really was the point?
One thing I didn’t like was reinventing Connor’s father as a stepfather. It’s a bizarre change. I’ve read some musings about how changing Larry to a stepfather brings Zoey and Evan closer together as they can bond over their loss of a father. Except…No. That’s dumb.
Zoey says her dad died when she was 1, so Larry is functionally her father. It’s weird that she even calls him Larry and not dad. She would have never known her father. And Connor was 3, and claims to remember the father? Who remembers anything from when they were three? Does Connor have photographic memory?
And then, to continue on the batshit crazy train to nowhere, we STILL get Larry’s scene where he talks about baseball and Connor…but he doesn’t get to sing To Break In A Glove? Why not? Why bother to keep the scene but cut the song? Just so you can write new songs for a character that is essentially irrelevant to the story? So, the dad, an important and central character, has his role reinvented and chopped back… so Zoey will love Evan more? If that’s the reason, someone should have slapped someone.
It’s not that hard to have faith in your source material. If you understand it, and know why it works, why people connect to it, it’s an easy adaptation. in The Heights failed because they essentially ripped the heart of the musical out by marginalizing Claudia, cutting most of her songs, and reducing her presence. So a stage musical about how one person, with no blood ties to her community could have such a strong impact on everyone around her was bastardized into whatever the hell that film was. here, a film that revolves around processing grief, takes a central character, the father of the kid who committed suicide, and diminishes him by making him a stepfather, having Zoey call him Larry, and removing his featured song. If you don’t understand your source material, don’t adapt it. It’s pretty simple.
The Blind Perspective; The audio description here was nice, but I came for the music. Having seen the stage production, I knew what I was getting into, and was able to follow the movie almost perfectly except for the new songs, so I wasn’t really relying on the audio description, but it is there.
Final Thoughts: A close to great adaptation that stands in its own way, but comes a lot closer than in The Heights, but falls far short of Tick Tick Boom. however, the music sounds great, Ben Platt delivers one hell of a performance, and the rest of the cast is solid across the board. I hate that they felt like the stage musical couldn’t just stand on its own, and that it needed to be reinvented and strengthened when it very much did not.
Final Grade: B