Back in the 90s, Jonathan Larson created Rent, a musical that would revolutionize Broadway and visual storytelling. He passed away the night before Rent was set to premiere, but he created a legacy that has lived on to this day: being an influence to all up-and-coming composers, actors, and songwriters. He also created a musical before that called Tick, Tick… Boom! Which has now been adapted to the big screen by none other than the Broadway legend, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Jonathan Larson (played by Andrew Garfield) is an aspiring composer in New York City, just days away from his 30th birthday. He also has a workshop coming up in a few days for his original musical that he has been penning for nearly a decade. With time running out and an unfinished musical, Jonathan begins to question whether or not he has made the right career choice.
Can we just appreciate the fact that Spider-Man can sing! I mean, he is holding his own and even surpassing seasoned singers like Vanessa Hudgens! But that’s only a piece of his quirky and frazzled performance. He was able to convey a variety of complex emotions throughout the film, as he walked a fine line between passion and obsession. It would be an obvious character trait given how much the character has sacrificed and how hard he worked to put his musical together; couple that with his frustrations with rejection and he is always on the verge of mental collapse. But arguably his best acting happens after he finds out his best friend Michael (played by Robin de Jesus) is HIV positive. He has trouble processing the news at first, but ultimately becomes a supportive friend, since Michael was with him through the entire creation of his musical. Garfield also gives Larson some eccentricities that allow for him to be a stand out in a cast full of colorful and unique characters, especially during the extremely comedic duet, “Therapy”.
As it’s a movie musical, there will be songs throughout and you would expect there to be some songs that would be bad, yet there are no bad songs throughout. Are some songs better than others? Yes, but they all feel authentic and necessary to the momentum of the plot. Arguably some of the best songs are “30/90”, “Therapy”, “Come to Your Senses'', and “Louder than Words”. “30/90” is a spectacular introduction to start off the film in addition to the introduction of Jonathan Larson, and sets the tone and theme of the musical perfectly. “Therapy” just allows for the quirkiness and laughter of Larson’s genius to reign supreme while also dealing with the turmoil of his relationship with Susan (played by Alexandra Shipp). But songs like “Come to Your Senses” and “Louder than Words” are the emotional core of the entire musical, as they convey what the film is about perfectly. Giving us both smiles and tears at their beauty will honestly touch your soul.
Without a doubt, Jonathan Larson’s musicals are all about the question, “What do we do with the time we have?” They all deal with addiction, homophobia, more obviously the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but asking ourselves what we do with our time is a universal question we all ask ourselves. This question is so simple yet so difficult to answer. I know I can’t answer it, but it gives us an opportunity to find the answer. But what I do know is that life is both long and short. Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021) along with the creative mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda in the director chair, this film delivers the message perfectly. Not telling people to “seize the day” but instead give us an introspective look at our own lives up to this point, and to ask the question “What do we do with the rest of our time?”
Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021) is the definition of a midlife crisis, in the most authentic and quirkiest way possible, since it asks the question we all ask ourselves, “what do we do with our time?” Simple as that. With fantastic music that will stand with some of the best soundtracks out there and an authentic direction from Miranda, this musical will become a modern classic. Garfield’s Oscar-worthy performance as Jonathan Larson only elevates the film even higher!