Dear Evan Hansen
Dear Evan Hansen (2021) movie review
Dear Evan Hansen, based on the musical of the same name, follows a high school student named, you guessed it, Evan Hansen. He suffers from a Social Anxiety disorder and copes with that by writing letters to himself. When one of his classmates, Connor, commits suicide, he discovers that Connor’s parents believe Evan and Connor were friends because Connor had one of his letters. The film was released in theaters last weekend, however the reception for the film was less than fair from critics and audiences…
Some of the negative reception can be attributed to changed made from the original musical, which is supposedly very good! And I totally understand that. If you love something and you are given a worse version of that thing, you would like it significantly less than if you were given that thing in the first place. Now I haven’t seen the musical, but if you have, it sounds like you wouldn’t like the film. And if you haven’t, well I have a feeling you won’t like the film that much either… But maybe there’s a few of you out there who don’t mine almost two and a half hours of high school drama as a musical! And hey if things like pacing don’t bother you, go see Evan Hansen!
To be fair to the film, and the musical, there are elements that really do work! For one, the themes the film presents are potent. They could be focused on a bit more clearly, but I love a movie that tackles issues like anxiety and suicide head on. I don’t think many genres get to do that as apparently as high school dramas, but that almost makes it a shame the film didn’t hone in on the themes even more. While the subject material is quite compelling, there is WAY too much going on in this movie to really draw one or two solid lessons from it.
The performances weren’t a problem, as everyone in the cast does a fine job overall. Ben Platt, who starred in the original musical, is obviously a thirty-year-old playing a high school student, which is incredible distracting. He also doesn’t do his utterly dislikable character any favors with his performance. But he can sing, so let’s cast him! To be totally honest, I didn’t care one way or another about any of the characters. Nik Dodani does a solid job playing the comic relief, but most of his dialogue isn’t great, all three parents in the film feel a bit wasted, and Evan is given a love interest that he doesn’t have much chemistry or screentime with AND a friend who he does have chemistry and the same amount of screentime with. Cut something!
At least everyone can sing well though. I didn’t really care for The Greatest Showman (2017) for a number of reasons, and the music was one of them. But that style does seem better utilized in this type of setting. And with one or two exceptions, I really liked the music! There are some very uplifting pieces, and one song that I couldn’t stop laughing through in the best way possible! So credit where credit is due, I enjoyed the film for the music and performances, despite the weak characters.
Sure weak characters and unfocused themes, but if its got fun and compelling music, isn’t that the point? Yes. Does it make it worth watching? Almost. Sadly what really kills this movie is the pacing and bloated runtime. We got to the point where it was finally wrapping up and we both agreed it was a decent way to end and not as slow as we had heard. That was an hour into the film… Then it keeps going. And going. AND GOING. And gosh it’s so slow. The music gets less interesting, the themes get all tied together, the characters never get more likable, and for as long as the film is, NOTHING GETS RESOLVED. Seriously, how could you not spend the last act wrapping things up? Did you need MORE time? No just cut many many things, a few characters and songs, and make your stupid movie ninety minutes.
It’s not horrible, but I would never watch it again. And while I did enjoy a few songs, that credit goes to the musical itself, which the film apparently does a poor job bringing to the big screen. I want to give the film more credit for the singing, performances, and themes. But in the end, and by that I mean the end of the film, I still hated the protagonist and the lack of repercussion he faces for the horrible things he puts these people through. The justification comes to up front that the film never makes another attempts to redeem Evan Hansen. Oh, plus it feels like its four hours long. In other words, I don’t recommend it. 4/10.
So Dear Evan Hansen- also why would they think that letter was to him? Even if you write formally, you don’t put someone’s last name if they are a good friend. AND ANOTHER THING! Evan and Connor obviously didn’t know each other, but after all the lying, why did nobody other than comic relief think they were a couple? Not only is it the first thing we thought of after Evan talks about the secret time they spent together and the letters and emails they wrote each other, but it would be a really believable alibi! I bet he could have sold the lie all the way to the end if he just ran with it. Nope! We get one joke about it and it’s never brought up again. Dumb.
Oh yeah, did you see it? What did you think? Blah blah like and comment if you would and seriously tell us what to review next! Yeah, thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince