Ryan Cannister’s review published on Letterboxd:
27 year old Ben Platt beat me up in the lobby after the movie for saying he looks 27.
This happened to my buddy Evan.
The movie literally is releasing on his Birthday, but sure it’s not nepotism.
Dear Evan Hansen tries to convince you it’s a strong film with it’s catchy music, heavy themes, and “star” casting. However words fail to describe how this adaptation gets it wrong at nearly every corner. I felt exhausted by the end.
To start off the material is just out of touch and problematic. It also was in 2016/17 onstage and even more so now on the big screen.
How did no one tell the director that Gen-Z doesn’t use Facebook?? Given the important that role of social media plays in the film, you would think they might use TikTok beyond a flash in a montage.
Also that’s not how Instagram works! It doesn’t ding! You would like have to specifically set that up somehow, right? A vast majority of people also don’t use the desktop version.
Then there’s how the story handles mental health. There’s a much longer conversation to be had here but I’ll just say… all the characters struggles feel so generalized and stereotypical. Struggling with mental health isn’t trendy and shouldn’t be used in such a flippant way.
Gonna be annoying and put on my theatre major hat for 10 seconds. Literally felt like everyone was playing the emotion and not the intention. I am awkward. I am angry. I am sad. So much felt flat, unearned, and awkward. Hat off.
In the actors defense, performances weren’t helped by the direction. Some bizarre staging choices. Sit and stare. Sit and stare. Sit and stare. Upbeat part of the song?! Sit and stare. I’m down for subtle staging but yeesh. The movement and use of the ensemble cast is way stronger on stage. Just compare Waving through a window, onstage Evan is circled by the ensemble and each movement/look feels purposeful and important. In the film he just kinda walks around a sea of people. I really enjoyed Chbosky’s work in Wallflower and Wonder, so I’m very curious what other factors may have been at play with production that were possibly beyond his control.
Ben Platt is a great performer! He’s incredible! He should not have been cast for the movie. I completely agree with what others have said and found his age to be very distracting throughout the movie and never really adjusted/forgot. A younger actors would have made Evan’s immaturity and getting caught up in a lie more 100x more believable. Why people are defending straight up nepotism / a choice that made the overall film weaker is beyond me.
Quick thoughts otherwise I’ll just keep going
-the cinematography is so bland
-not the video screens into a mosaic moment
-Really didn’t care for Amy Adams in this, tough for anyone to make that dialogue work though
-I didn’t think vocals from any of the Murphy’s were particularly strong
-The cut songs were replaced with not as good songs imo and this eliminated a lot of strong musical motifs
-Julianne Moore innocent
-Feels like Evan gets off easier at end with more justification of his actions, rather than having him having to face any big consequences
-Waving Through a Window, THE JUMPCUTS
-Sincerely Me was fun
-For Forever, bizarre static staging
-Words Fail, vocally v impressive but felt kinda rushed
-Wish they had treated this more as the ensemble piece it was onstage than the star vehicle they so desperately want it to be.
This was fun in dolby but I’d say just wait to stream it if you’re on the fence.