tick, tick...Boom! Movie Review
If one were to come up with a thousand titles that would draw people in to watch a musical or movie, you’d still be nowhere close to selecting tick...tick...Boom!, the insultingly bad name for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature-length directorial debut... and the musical on which it is based. But fight the urge to ignore this tragically titled production and you’ll discover a highly entertaining, witty, and laughter-evoking musical drama.
Andrew Garfield delivers a terrific performance as Jon Larson, who, as I learned at the end of the movie, is the creator of the musical Rent. Jon is a brilliant young composer who is looking for his first big break in New York (or, one could argue, in his life). Increasingly consumed by his multi-year odyssey to produce and deliver his life’s work, those around him--his girlfriend, his best friend, and others--fall by the wayside.
But the dude delivers some great music.
tick...tick...Boom! (just typing the title makes me want to bang my head against my computer) is a disarmingly lowkey musical in terms of production value; set in run-down apartments and corner shops, it feels much more down-to-Earth than the expansive Hamilton or the vibrant In the Heights. And yet it has the same gusto, the same fast-and-clever dialogue, and immersive and ever-evolving lyrics you’ve come to expect from a Miranda-involved project. What’s interesting, of course, is that Miranda isn’t credited as a writer--Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen) adapted Larson’s play--but you can see why Miranda was drawn to what was clearly an influential piece of work to his own career and style.
tick...tick...Boom! (ugh) is, simply put, a fun production to watch and experience, highlighted by Garfield’s immersive performance. Garfield, always an expressive actor, puts on a physical tour de force, his face and body operating as much of a prop as anything else on set. It helps that he looks like the real Larson, too.
Boasting great music and fluid writing, the movie is sadly unlikely to achieve the recognition that other recent or upcoming musical adaptations have received. That doesn’t mean it’s any less deserving. As for that title...
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.