The movie that both Broadway fans and film buffs agree is terrible hit theaters this month.
Dear Evan Hansen, a musical-turned-film about a lonely high school senior with crippling anxiety who exploits his classmate’s suicide for fame, popularity, and to date the deceased’s sister.
The movie received a devastating 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the reviews were less than satisfactory.
Evan could be classified as a sociopath; he relishes the benefits of a simple misunderstanding regarding Connor’s suicide and uses them to infiltrate Connor’s family’s home, giving speeches and fabricating emails to make himself seem like Connor’s best friend.
28-year-old lead Ben Platt was received with less-than-ideal criticism.
Reviewers called him a “man-child,” and Jeanette Catsoulis from New York Times called Platt “as unconvincing a high-school senior as John Travolta was in ‘Grease.’”
This isn’t the first time grown men and women have been cast for children on national TV.
The CW’s 2018 smash hit Riverdale featured 24-year-old KJ Apa as Archie Andrews, with 29-year-old Cole Sprouse as side character Jughead Jones.
Platt, who played the original Evan Hansen in the musical’s 2016 debut, seemed an ideal candidate to helm Evan’s 2021 comeback.
However, in the movie, his cakey age-reversing makeup gives him away to any audience.
Platt’s last performance as the on-stage Hansen was November 19, 2017. Since then, he’s gone underground as his successors, including the much younger-looking Jordan Fisher, took the stage and the Broadway run ended.
Critics wonder why other Evans, such as Fisher, weren’t considered for the lead, especially since several of them are many years younger than Platt.
In her New York Times review, Catsoulis cites Platt’s father Marc Platt as one of the movie’s producers; it can be inferred that the senior Platt had an influence in the casting decisions.
There’s a big difference between the ages of 17 and 23, but the gap between the late teens and slouching toward thirty-something is practically a chasm, especially when Platt portrays it.
But the difference between the the movie’s receival and the musical’s receival begs the question: what’s so different between the two?
The beloved 2016 musical was praised by all audiences, earning a Critics’ Pick from New York Times.
Robert Daniels, an acclaimed movie reviewer, noted in his review that acting can appear different on stage from in a film.
“Platt reprising his role, on the other hand, is the least of the film’s problems: his character is threadbare, and there’s no amount of experience that can add depth to Evan. His task is made all the more challenging because Evan isn’t a likable character,” Daniels wrote, giving the film 1 of 5 stars.
He also wrote that the film showed a lack of pathos, taking away the intended meaning of the musical to create an artificial, almost robot-like movie adaptation.
Daniels also cites scenes in the movie that weren’t scripted in the musical, more specifically Evan’s filming of Connor’s singing in a group therapy session.
“Who videotapes a group therapy session?” he writes.
“Who then sends that footage? It’s blatant emotional manipulation on the part of the film.”
Director Stephen Chbosky’s film concerns itself solely with pulling at heartstrings, and then, in Daniels’s words, “stamping them into the saccharine ground.”
Though the musical is regarded as a work of art, but the movie falls in the same black hole as Cats, showing viewers that some franchises are made to be left alone.
Dear Evan Hansen is a terrible, misbegotten movie with too little self-awareness to care how out of tune it sounds.