tick, tick... BOOM! (2021)

tick, tick... BOOM! (2021)

PG-13

netflix

An emotional musical biopic whose unwieldiness feels totally sincere

7.6

Movie

United States of America
English, Spanish
Drama, Music
2021
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA
Adam Pascal, Alexandra Shipp, André De Shields
120 min

TLDR

Every time one of these comes out, you can't help but think to yourself... how the hell did Bohemian Rhapsody get all that praise?

What it's about

Struggling musical theater composer Jonathan Larson scrambles to finish the score he's writing before he turns 30 years old.

The take

With its origins as a full-length rock monologue, it's understandable if Tick, Tick... Boom! comes off as overly concerned with its protagonist's personal anxieties and not the larger social and health crises happening right outside his door. But while it really doesn't offer much insight into the AIDS epidemic, or even the art scene of 1990s New York, the helplessness that Jonathan Larson feels in the face of his own inability to save the world comes off as honest expression nonetheless. Andrew Garfield and a strong cast that includes Robin de Jesús and Vanessa Hudgens give purpose and energy to this somewhat messy character study that still manages to land its emotional beats.

What stands out

Tick, Tick... Boom!'s musical score is arguably about as unwieldy as Rent's (the real Jonathan Larson's final and most famous work), but its in the jittery, genre-blending quality of Larson's songs where the show really finds its identity. You can tell that Stephen Sondheim's laser precision was a big influence on Larson's writing, so it's also interesting to note how often his score deviates—coming across instead as a '90s mixtape of sorts, brimming with unabashed sentimentality and just a hint of improvisation. Individual songs might not always hit, but taken as an entire soundtrack, it always keeps you on your toes.

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