tick, tick...BOOM!

tick, tick...BOOM!

Even in my theater kid days (goddamn them), I never understood the appeal for RENT. Songs were mediocre, message was a white-bread upper-class idea of revolutionary action, and getting behind this idea of Jonathan Larson as this unsung genius taken away so soon was nigh impossible, especially after learning the realities of the ACT UP Coalition at the time, and reading Sarah Schulman’s Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America, which was rightfully critical of every gay trust fund baby’s favorite opera. Years after the fact, something similar happened with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, minus the stagehand goggles. The biggest differences were that I enjoyed some of Hamilton, and that the play’s author was alive and continuing to be obnoxiously inescapable. He’s still writing music for commercials, animated films, appearing in television, or reciting corny raps to appease the libs with his safe presence.

In short, this directorial debut for the medium of film was inevitable.

And just like the director and his subject have done with their respective magnum opus, Tick, Tick… Boom! is all kinds of maudlin, wanting you as a viewer to feel for this creator in a quarter life crisis who sets unrealistic expectations for himself at the behest of his struggling friends. Music’s still mediocre, presentation equally so, and no insight is given about the creative process outside of a mild inspirational throb that “maybe with perseverance and a grant from your parents, you too can be the next Sondheim.”

Perhaps it’s Sondheim’s death yesterday that gives this a bitter aftertaste, but when your thesis lies more in league with wanting to outdo everyone instead of simply being creative for the catharsis and improvement, it wears one’s privilege as a cloak rather than on the sleeve. Way more grating as a result, and in truth, not much fun.

0 for 2 on the American musical movies this year. Maybe let’s wait to twist the knife with Spielberg’s West Side Story.

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