Thursday, November 18, 2021

tick, tick...Boom! - Review


“We made it for the fans” is a phrase that so often is used when the newest franchise film is met with resistance from critics. While there may not be a lot of criticism being hurled at tick, tick…BOOM!, the phrase feels wholly applicable. This film is for Broadway nerds, packed with cameos and references to the successes and failures of musicals throughout history. 

The story follows that of Jonathan Larson, played by Andrew Garfield, a nearly thirty year old epitome of a starving artist. As his 30th approaches, he laments the fact that he not produced any work of note in his many years of writing. In the week leading up to this milestone day, Larson has the chance to present his sci-fi, epic musical Superbia to friends and every producer that would come. However, things aren’t completely ready and the stress continues to build and build until there’s no choice but to explode. 

It’s a typical story of an artist trying everything in their power to breakthrough, just with an artist that anyone familiar with Broadway musicals would recognize. The film is an adaptation of a musical that Jonathan Larson wrote before RENT, and the film structures itself to improve on the source material as much as it can. It opens on Andrew Garfield behind a piano in a small theater, singing the opening number as it bounces between his reality and the performance masterfully, never loosing its best asset: Garfield’s performance.

Garfield is undoubtedly the strongest aspect of the film. His performance is raw and energetic, and a showcase for musical abilities that are impressive to say the least. He’s eager and whole heartedly committed to “making it”, giving up on so many parts of his life in his pursuit of success in the arts. The pressure builds, for Larson and the audience, and the ever pressing nature of trying to bring a show together is illustrated perfectly.

In his directorial debut, Lin-Manuel Miranda shows that he is capable in the director’s chair. There’s nothing remarkable about the direction mind you, but he clearly knows how to stage musical numbers and isn’t afraid to let some surreal and fantastical moments of Broadway magic come to the big screen. And while it isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before, its a solid starting point and enough to warrant excitement over what the Broadway legend may do next for the screen. 

In the end, tick, tick…Boom! is a solid directorial debut for Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s not an earth shattering discovery that he’s a capable creator, but he shows promise in the feature film world with this effort. Andrew Garfield may have delivered one of his performances and will surely be in the Best Actor conversation as it nears. Of the musicals released in 2021, tick, tick…Boom! is easily the best of the bunch (so far). 

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