Film Review: tick, tick…BOOM!

If you want to get sad about a creative life with so much to give being cut too short, or just continue to be sad about your own shortcomings through your 30+ years of life, then tick, tick… BOOM! is the movie for you!

Basic Synopsis: Jonathan Larson anxiously bemoans his unmemorable life in the days leading up to his 30th birthday, bouncing between these moments and the stage production inspired by them.

(Not So) Brief Thoughts: With the popularity of Rent, I’m honestly pretty surprised that I’d never even heard of Larson’s previous musical, tick, tick…BOOM! Granted, a one man show doesn’t have quite the theatricality of the larger cast productions that have already gone through the film adaptation process over the past couple of decades, so I can see why it wasn’t on the short list during the boom of musical stage shows making their way to the silver screen. Though I would absolutely love to see how Larson initially presented it – and if anyone could handle the responsibility, Andrew Garfield more than has the talent, charm, and magnetism necessary to carry that burden of Larson’s largely autobiographical show – a larger cast adaptation is undoubtedly the way to go for this movie adaptation. 

Favorite Song: The mental gymnastics needed to follow “Therapy” with it’s lyrics like: “If I thought that what you thought was that I hadn’t thought about sharing my thoughts, then my reaction to your reaction to my reaction would’ve been more revealing,” and the bummer of a journey down memory lane in “Why” make both of these songs stand out, but the song from the play within the play, Superbia, is easily my favorite. So you better believe I am fumed that it isn’t on the soundtrack. 

(Not So) Brief Thoughts (Cont.): There is no denying that Garfield gives the standout performance as Larson (potentially aided greatly by director Lin Manuel Miranda if my ears are to be believed in picking up a similar cadence and tone in Garfield’s performance to that of his leader) as he desperately claws his way towards becoming someone worth remembering by the Broadway elite, but that in no way means that Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, and the rest of the cast don’t all bring as much heart and talent to their supporting roles, acting as the perfect scene partners in moments of joyous gaiety, unappreciated frustration, and the utter lows of heartbreak. And it is the feel and emotions of these scenes, such as in the bracing juxtaposition of the upbeat small town fair feel of “Therapy” intercut with Jonathan and Susan’s relationship imploding, where the musical feels most impactful. In other words, the songs are good (though hardly as catchy as my favorites from Rent), but it’s everything around them that I found myself appreciating the most. 

Quick Question: How pissed were all you Vanessa Hudgens fans when the camera focused in on her at the start of “Come to Your Senses,” only to cut to Shipp as soon as the singing starts? Sure it eventually evolves into a duet, but for a minute there it had some major OOF energy. 

Final Thoughts: Jonathan Larson may have felt like he had nothing to show for his first 15,768,000 minutes of life, but there’s no denying the loss felt by the legacy he left behind.

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