tick, tick…BOOM! (2021) movie review
So tick, tick…BOOM! is a Netflix musical starring Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larson, a young man living in New York City in the 90s. He is about to turn thirty years old and is attempting to complete a musical that he has been working on for the last eight years, all while dealing with his personal life that is quickly falling apart. The film, based on the musical of the same name, directed by the one and only Lin-Manuel Miranda, was released on Netflix this past weekend to a strong reception, with an 88% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and an even higher audience score.
Like musicals? tick…BOOM! is fantastic! Now I haven’t seen the play, so my comparison is simply the little knowledge I had going into this film. But in a year full of musicals, with three others featuring the talents of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this one might just be the best! Okay I haven’t seen Encanto yet… But look, it’s great and it’s on Netflix. What more do you want?
So I haven’t seen Rent either, therefor the specific writing style of music was more unfamiliar to me than than say In the Heights (2021) or material from a creator who had a change to do more work overall. Which might make tick, tick…BOOM! a rare treat! I’m stalling because I don’t know how to analyze music when singing ender the picture… Anyway yeah, I loved the music! The way the film pulls back and forth between the frame story and base story and how the music jumps around between diagetic and, well, not- it’s wonderful! Few films get a chance to push how a musical’s narrative is treated, but this is one of them!
Lin-Manuel Miranda takes a break from singing and songwriting to debut his directorial feature, and all I have to say is: Well. Done. The visual direction is- okay look, he is an industry professional in both stage and film now, so saying that things like choreography are in good hands is a bit obvious. But wow does he bring a strong visual style to the filmmaking aspect of this adaptation! I won’t lie when I say that not every shot is as visually captivating as it could be, but pulling off such a sleek and grounded style while still bringing the music to life in a visually stunning way is downright impressive!
So yesterday I wrote that I don’t think King Richard (2021) should be what wins Will Smith an Oscar. He has done better work and probably will do better work, even though he’s great in that movie. That said, one of the real reasons I said that is because, maybe Andrew Garfield should win one instead…? Mr. Garfield bursts onto the screen with energy to spare, delivering a wholly empathetic performance that any struggling artist, or really anyone who has ever had a dream, can relate to. Oh yeah, and he can sing. Really well. In his first musical.
Of course he isn’t alone in the film. His fellow future Oscar nominee Robin de Jesus steals just about every scene he is in, bringing a surprising amount of depth and heart to the film through… a subplot? That’s right. And the way the story weaves in the social climate at the time in this story, especially surrounding Robin’s character Michael, is actually very well done! We also get a strong supporting performance from Alexandra Shipp as Jonathan’s girlfriend Susan. Shipp really runs with this character, taking what could have been a somewhat two-dimensional character and giving her the depth she needed to be memorable and compelling. Also there’s a brief but strong performance from Vanessa Hudgens that I didn’t expect. Snaps all around! (That’s what they do in theater right? Snap?)
So I don’t know how this adaptation of a musical set in the 90s feels like the most perfectly modern musical ever made. Perhaps it speaks to the ageless themes of following your dreams, or it could be in the hands of someone who really knows how to bring something from the stage to the screen! Either way, tick, tick…BOOM! is the modern musical at its absolute best and brightest. The performances are stunning, the music is wonderful- you know I don’t have too many negative thoughts… For now I’m going to give the film an 8/10 and think about that rating I put it on a list of my favorite films of the year… So yeah, to watch tick, tick…BOOM! on Netflix now!
So tick, tick…BOOM!? Did you watch it? What did you think? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, tell us what we should write about next in the comments! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince