Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús
Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Running Time: 121 mins
Tick, Tick… Boom! is an American film about Broadway musical writer Jonathan Larson, and the struggles of the early years of his career, as he strives to write the next hit musical and get his life started.
The stage-to-screen transition is always a difficult move to make for any Broadway musical, but Tick, Tick…Boom! is one that pulls it off in spectacular fashion. Overflowing with passion for its source material and subject matter, this is more than just a toe-tapping song-and-dance affair, but a riveting, innovative and inspiring story of living life to the fullest.
But before we get into why this film works so well, we need to make clear exactly what this film is. The film is based on the stage play of the same name, written by Jonathan Larson, who is the main character of this movie. The movie works as both an adaptation of both musical and a biographical account of Larson’s early struggles as a writer, interspersing on-stage scenes and biographical scenes throughout.
That’s a really hard double act to execute, but the parallels between Larson’s semi-autobiographical stage play and his real life gives the filmmakers all the opportunities here to tie the musical and biopic elements of the movie together. And director Lin-Manuel Miranda, well-versed in both the movie and stage musical, is the perfect person to put it all together.
Not only is the music in this movie so fantastically energetic, but Miranda gives each musical sequence the chance to breathe both as a performance, and as a vehicle to drive the story forwards. Too often do musical numbers delay plot movement and make for a boring, jerky film, but that absolutely isn’t the case with Tick, Tick…Boom!
As I mentioned, this film is overflowing with passion for its source material and subject matter, and the care and attention taken by director Miranda to each musical sequence is the perfect example of that. From quiet, intimate songs to the biggest show tunes, Tick, Tick…Boom! is never afraid to push the boat out and make each song more spectacular than the last.
Coupled with ingenious and innovative splicing of biographical scenes into each song, and the music really helps you to connect more with each and every character as we follow a young Jonathan Larson contemplating his potential as a stage musical writer.
The movie never neglects the emotional depth at play here, with a brilliantly intimate portrait of its main character. We care for him, his friends and especially his dreams, and this film delivers a soaring message of always pushing against the odds to achieve the life you’ve always been looking for.
There’s something reminiscent of La La Land to that central theme, but Tick, Tick…Boom! is much more in your face about it, and will hopefully leave you feeling on cloud nine by the time the credits roll.
And finally, none of the brilliance of this movie would be possible without what is surely one of the year’s best performances. Andrew Garfield is electrifying as Jonathan Larson, not just displaying spectacular musical talents, but really inhabiting his character to every last detail, and once again showing all the passion in the world for his role.
That passion, much like director Miranda’s for the subject matter, is deliriously infectious throughout this movie, and makes it a consistently entertaining watch. It’s a bold movie musical that takes risks, but it pulls it off in spectacular style, so that’s why I’m giving Tick, Tick…Boom! a 7.9 overall.