mark’s review published on Letterboxd:
While not as egregious in its historical revisionism, tick, tick... BOOM! clearly stems from the same ethos that produced Hamilton. Both works are interested in making the past more palatable to the present so that historical "great men" can be "rightfully "restored" to their place in history. Couldn't their auteur have found more inspiring geniuses?
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a fascinating but morally dubious artist. I'm annoyed that as a fan of theatre I have to be so confronted with his work, but I guess that's the hand I'm dealt. I don't think he is necessarily evil, but I do think there is a coherent argument to be made that his art has a consistent moral corruption to it. His introduction to the world was pretending to be a poor immigrant bodega worker (instead of a Wesleyan graduate) and from there he's specialized in imagining himself in Romantic situations, where both power and oppression-from-that-power are beautifully harmonized, resolving in the Recognition of Genius Post Mortem. Oh and maybe along the way you dress up as a slave owner for fun or whatever idk.
In some ways, Jonathan Larson makes for a perfect subject matter for Mr. Miranda and his obsession with being recognized as a genius. Larson's RENT is a fascinating mixed bag of work, at once skilled musical theatre but phony sociology, but is one of the most successful and identifiable musicals of the last 25 years. tick, tick... BOOM! was already written, an expression of Jonathan Larson's then-silent genius, and more or less ripe for shifting focus in a way that professes Lin as the secret genius, living vicariously through his hero.
But Lin is too smart to show things as they are, so instead he re-writes history (I'll do this dance with you) to be easier to swallow for the thousands upon thousands of brain-rotted millennials who just want to believe in the innocence of our blood-soaked nation. Well Jonathan Larson died of Marfan syndrome, not AIDS, and his friends were mostly white, and the horrible truth of America is that the oppressed don't get to tell their stories. Instead, those in power tell their stories for them.
This movie bothered me so much, and I think it's honestly because as a writer I'm theoretically supposed to identify with the main character. But writing is not a short circuit: you actually need a lightbulb, a coherent idea. And the brilliance on display here is self-referential, mirrored, and only extant because the movie tells you it is. If your product is a sort-of-catchy pop tune with inane lyrics, you don't get to proclaim the immense agonism and worthiness of your genius. I mean, you can, but you better make your proclamation a steeled leap of cognizance and not just jacking yourself off for two hours.
At least Andrew Garfield is hot, and he loves to be stuck in the cold in movies, which is also kind of hot.