DEAR EVAN HANSEN – “A rather cringey spectacle”

(from left) Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) and Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) in Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky.

RATING

DIRECTOR

Stephen Chbosky (Wonder – 2017)

MAIN CAST

  • Ben Platt as Evan Hansen
  • Amy Adams as Cynthia Murphy
  • Julianne Moore as Heidi Hansen
  • Kaitlyn Dever as Zoe Murphy
  • Amandla Stenberg as Alana Beck
  • Nik Dodani as Jared Kalwani
  • Danny Pino as Larry Mora
  • Colton Ryan as Connor Murphy

SYNOPSIS

It is based on the 2015 stage musical of the same name

Evan Hansen, a high school student with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), has a therapeutic self-intended letter stolen by a classmate named Connor Murphy, who later dies by suicide. Connor's family mistakes the letter as a letter sent to Evan by Connor. Evan inserts himself into the boy's past, throwing him into a series of lies and confrontational events.

REVIEW SUMMARY

The long-awaited Broadway to big screen adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen is, well, a rather cringey spectacle. The film’s biggest issue hits right at the start, as we get our first glimpse at lead Ben Platt as the titular character. Since Platt wowed audiences as the teenage outsider in the stage version for years, what could possibly be so wrong here? Well, for starters, the talented actor is 27 years old – 10 years older than his character. Did the filmmakers go the popular de-aging CGI route to reduce the fine lines and such? Nope – they made him up with what I can only assume is the same type of hair and makeup used on dead people. It’s pretty laughable and obviously hard to overlook. Furthermore, the movie has a bit of a plot problem. No spoilers of course, but let’s just say there’s a necessary moral reckoning missing. I mean, it comes, but it doesn’t hit the way it should, landing as a “meh - oh well” moment. The premise is interesting, yes, but the third act doesn’t deliver on any meaningful resolutions or lessons (maybe it played out better in Broadway form?). Even the much-advertised themes around friendship, mental health, and grief are all annoyingly broad. Where this movie does shine, however, is with the music. Platt can certainly sing, evoking all the requisite emotion when he does. The rest of the cast plays their parts well too (looking at you Amy Adams and Julianne Moore), but with a clunky story and no-frills approach, Dear Evan Hansen becomes one such musical that hits all the wrong notes!

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