Film Review: “tick, tick BOOM!


  • tick, tick…BOOM!
  • Starring:  Andrew Garfield and Vanessa Hudgens
  • Directed by:  Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time: 1 hr 55 mins


It’s sad when you don’t see your hard work come to fruition…to not see the impact it had on the world around you.  One example is Steve Gordon, the writer and director of the film “Arthur.”  He passed away shortly after the film came out and, though he had a chance to see how his work was embraced, he never lived to see “Arthur” become a true classic film.  Then there’s Jonathan Larson. 


Larson created one of the most beloved musicals of all time, RENT, which won pretty much every award possible.  Sadly, Larson never got to see how his work was embraced, passing away the night before RENT had its first public performance.  But there was more to Larson’s life, and “tick, tick…BOOM!” gives us a musical look at the man behind the music. 


Jonathan Larson (an AMAZING Andrew Garfield), is about to workshop the new musical he’s written.  He’s gotten good feedback from everyone whose heard it, from his friends to the great Stephen Sondheim (Bradley Whitford), But Larson feels he needs one more song to, in the words of the late, great Mr. Sondheim, “Put it all together.” 


What do you do after you’ve written two Tony-award winning musicals, including the brilliant “Hamilton?”  If you’re Lin-Manuel Miranda you make your feature film directing debut with a musical about one of your peers.  Miranda is a true genius and I can’t think of another modern  director who could bring all of their knowledge of musical theater and translate it to the silver screen.  I say modern because this film would have been right up Bob Fosse’s alley.  The musical numbers are brilliantly staged while the more quiet moments are framed to convey the most powerful of emotions.

Miranda is aided by a top-notch cast, including the aforementioned Mr. Garfield who, besides being one of the best young actors working today, displays a strong singing voice.  The cast is peppered with a who’s who of theater talents, including Joel Grey, Judith Light,  Judy Kuhn and Roger Bart.  I think I even caught Lin-Manuel Miranda as a singing kitchen worker. 


As the film progresses, we follow Larson though his daily routine, and as he deals with his daily struggles and those of his friends, we begin to see the first sparks of what will one day become RENT. 


“West Side Story” has garnered most of the attention this year as THE movie musical to see.  And that attention is well deserved.  However, as the Jets and the Sharks learn, there is always room for one more.  BOOM!

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