So let’s recap: I was on Cloud Nine after In The Heights and Amazons’ Cinderella brought be back down to Earth and now I’m just a sad lonely clown. Now I might as well be a sad, lonely PEEVED OFF clown because ‘Dear Evan Hansen’…..might very well be one of the worst musicals I have ever seen.
I’m bloody ashamed to even utter that statement because it’s not a complete trainwreck but you know what it really is?Manipulative and annoying.
Outside of Ben Platt, performances from Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Amandla Stenberg and Kaitlyn Dever were…..about as underwhelming as I’ve seen from them. But Kaitlyn and Julianne’s characters were the only two characters that came SO CLOSE to actually being credible amongst this sea of artificial cliched cardboard cutouts.
So yes, the cast isn’t as uneven as I’ve heard but the chemistry between most of them is severely lacking and bringing back Ben Platt admittedly wasn’t the best decision they could’ve made.
But it was far from the worst they did with this movie.
Standard cinematography; nothing really special and outside of a few fast cuts in the beginning, editing is also fine if not a little bit subpar. Production design does it’s best to provide some much needed outmost levity but the color grading makes every scene but the last few look the same.
I can only remember three distinct songs from this musical and the rest just went popping through one ear and out the other. The ‘Sincerely, Me’ song was the only time I came close to chuckling and laughing and there’s barely a memory between the others, partially because half the time the music is so loud, I can hardly hear the lyrics.
Doesn’t exactly help that there’s next to no choreography to this. No dancing, no humming, no rapid fast tap dancing; maybe it’s because I’m so used to dancing being a part of musical lore but hot damn, how do you not have that?
And then there’s the pacing.
Jesus Christ on a bicycle, the pacing! When Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a FOUR HOUR MOVIE, breezes by in what feels like half the time compared to this, you need to get your priorities checked. There is no reason why a two hour musical should feel TWICE as long as the 1956 version of the Ten Commandments! And they keep on spinning it as slowly as possible
Between rather melodramatic drivel to popping a few laughs, the sluggish pacing really begins to peel back at what the actual tone of this movie is……if such a tone even coexisted because the movie just couldn’t choose.
While not poignant, conceptually speaking, the themes it has aren’t foolproof because they’ve worked before but they still can work in this context: lie to get what they want but the truth will eventually come out. It also brings about the long-term effects of suicide and how it effects everyone while also touching about how cancerous it can be for people to be stuck in the past and not move on to become more emotionally healthy.
It is a lot to appreciate, really, but it all comes down to execution and that’s really balloons this entire progression of the story: it’s own myopic obsession in trying to have its cake, eat it too and sell it in both ways.
The entire selling point of this story was Evan’s lie inspiring a lot of people to speak up against the issues of suicide but how that very lie within itself plays at the epicenter of how this was wrong to start with; I mean, yeah I get it: it’s a hopeful lie surrounding a serious situation…..but it’s still a decision that cost thousands of people their dignity, livelihoods or worse and makes Evan out to be really creepy and far from sympathetic; the bloody Cheetah Girls end up looking more sympathetic after this and they were ACTIVELY TRYING to get on your nerves!
If this musical wanted to be as hopeful as it claims it is, it should’ve used its darker story to dissect that false sense of cheery optimism that plagues the rest of the plot and you know, commit to its promise. But by playing it safe, the story proceeds to gloss over the pathological choices Evan makes and refuses to get to the actual root of the problem, thus exercising more blatant emotional manipulation and taking the audiences affection for granted.
This adaptation of the ‘beloved’ musical only seems to further highlight what was wrong with the original incarnation since day one: outside of it failing to resolve that moral rot in the center that it sets up, it ends up being convoluted to the point of coming off less inspirational and clever and more crassly manipulating despite it’s heart being somewhat in the right place.