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  • Sam Schreiber

Tick... Tick... Boom! Review (Movie Musical)

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

When describing Tick…Tick…Boom!, I echo the words that broke the post-show silence of RENT’s first preview: “Thank you, Jonathan Larson!”

Written as a semi-autobiographical ‘rock monologue’ and faithfully adapted for the screen, Tick…Tick…Boom! marks both the directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights) and, hopefully, a turning point in the creation of modern movie musicals.

In the run up to his 30th birthday, Jonathan Larson is in the throes of struggle, trying to get his show (Superbia) off the ground. With a workshop looming, his personal relationships begin to crumble and immense stress closes in.

Despite a seemingly successful workshop, an unsatisfying result is delivered and Larson grapples further with the reality of creating art, destined for a career of “just throwing (ideas) against the wall and hoping against hope that eventually something sticks”. The film ends abruptly- like Larson’s life did- with a final epilogue describing the events following Tick…Tick…Boom!- namely the creation of RENT and Larson’s tragic, sudden death.

Larson’s music shines beautifully- as it rightfully should- with perhaps some of the most joyful, heart-breaking and uplifting songs in musical theatre getting their deserved exposure. With some stunning crescendos, Larson’s musical numbers crash down dramatically into his famously snappy and catchy choruses. It would be an understatement to say that Larson creates pure musical ecstasy in Tick…Tick…Boom!. His work is perfectly genius.

The number ‘Sunday’- a love letter from Larson to Sondheim himself- is a particular standout moment, with an array of cameos larger than any MT fan’s reasonable comprehension. Miranda’s combined immense love of Tick…Tick…Boom! and the musical theatre world is, indeed, unmistakeable throughout the film, but never more so than when Joel Grey, André De Shields and two of the original Schuyler Sisters share the screen, inside Larson’s place of work. Musical theatre fans can’t help but feel as seen as ever.

References to the late Stephen Sondheim come timely as ever in this film, as Bradley Whitford portrays the legend himself at the height of his success. A clear adoration is boldly prevalent in both Miranda’s directorial vision, as well as Larson’s composition, providing a striking insight to Sondheim’s colossal impact on the theatre and the artists within it. His vocal appearance in a voicemail to Larson (Andrew Garfield) made my heart burst with joy.

Andrew Garfield (Jonathan Larson) is at his absolute best in this film. Taking the viewer through Larson’s rollercoaster of soaring highs and devastating lows, he captures the essence of the man with unbelievable realism and dedication. Any and all of his vocal performances are also utterly incredible, with 30/90, Boho Days and Louder than Words being particular standout highlights for this reviewer.

All in all, Tick…Tick...Boom! is without doubt, spectacular. I perhaps would’ve liked to see the epilogue replaced with a few scenes concerning RENT’s conception and the following reactions to Larson’s death but nonetheless, I was in awe.

Musical theatre fans: this film is made for us by the very best.

You will not be disappointed.

Tick…Tick…Boom! is available now on Netflix.

Images found via Google, not my own


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