Dear Evan Hansen the Movie: A Rant

So much unfavourable things were said about Stephen Chbosky’s motion picture adaptation of the Tony winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen, ever since it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival that it’s easy to see why or how people just piled on it, creating a wave of negative reviews, planting pre-viewing ideas and opinions about the film.

Despite the reviews, the low stars, the low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, I still went ahead and saw the movie. This with an open mind and unminding of whatever I’ve previously read, and here is why I am posting about a rant.

A major objection about the film is casting Ben Platt in the titular role – late-twenties Platt playing a teen; Platt caked in make up and a hair-do that made him look even older. Sure, the response from the star could have been handled better, but I guess, people tend to say things when on the defensive. I do not say I qualify as a Ben Platt fan. I’m really not – I’m not familiar with all his work outside of the Broadway stage – but I can see past the looks, the age, the hair, and everything else everyone nitpicked, and it made me appreciate the movie for what it is. And you have to admit, he’s got a great singing voice and acted the part well, and this is not me undermining everyone else who played the same role. Besides, this project was announced months before – why didn’t we hear anything back then?

Probably the most irritating to me is reading how he was casted because his father produced the film, which is very irrelevant because really, how does this affect the story, the songs, and the outcome of the film? Lots of movies are produced and starred by the same person. Lots of producers cast their families and friends. Lots of productions are created to solely showcase their own circle’s talents (think Fosse and Verdon). Think – where’s the objection to those?

Another theme of the bashing is how the story is so different from the original source material, making the work “lose its heart”. The movie, even with the changes, did not veer away from the main concept. Evan did what he did and corrected it. Its what also happened at the stage version. There was heart, there was emotion. Didn’t Amy Adams make you feel for her? Didn’t you feel empathy when Danny Pino’s realized and accepted his loss? If it didn’t, maybe people were the one that lost their hearts.

Some songs were taken off and some were added. This happens a lot when a stage musical gets translated onto the screen. It’s nothing new. In fact, opening the movie with “Waving Through A Window”, the song the musical is known for, was far more effective in establishing the mood and theme of the movie, rather than the stage version’s “Anybody Have A Map” (which, admittedly, could have been inserted in between Waving and For Forever).

Not the kind of rant you expected, eh?

Well, I’m glad I gave Dear Evan Hansen a chance. I saw past the criticism and waved the backlash to set my own opinions. And I appreciated the work.

Sincerely, me

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