Synopsis:

The film follows Jon (Academy Award nominee and Tony Award winner Andrew Garfield), a young theater composer who’s waiting tables at a New York City diner in 1990 while writing what he hopes will be the next great American musical. Days before he’s due to showcase his work in a make-or-break performance, Jon is feeling the pressure from everywhere: from his girlfriend Susan, who dreams of an artistic life beyond New York City; from his friend Michael, who has moved on from his dream to a life of financial security; amidst an artistic community being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. With the clock ticking, Jon is at a crossroads and faces the question everyone must reckon with: What are we meant to do with the time we have?

Chasing your dreams isn’t always pretty, in fact, it’s usually really difficult. It can put a strain or even cost you jobs, friendships, family, and even romantic relationships. The hours you put in are long and that’s not to mention the hours you put in additionally at a day job. While some dreams or goals may happen in a short span of time, others could take years or even a lifetime. As we age, the 24-hour lifespan of a day begins to feel like half of what we have come to know. Subsequently, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. Eventually, you have to have a conversation with yourself and decide whether the lack of sleep, large amounts of stress, loss of money, and frustration are all worth it. You may come to the conclusion that your pursuit is over and it’s time to augment your course. I mean, you don’t want to miss out on life and what’s going on right in front of you. However, the reason why some people don’t achieve their dreams is that they give up too early. Only you know when it’s time to give up or if you should keep going.

“Cages or wings, which do you prefer?”

In his directorial debut, Lin-Manuel Miranda resurrects the heartfelt and autobiographical work of musical theater pioneer, Jonathan Larson, tick, tick…BOOM!. Based on the musical of the same name, the film is a vivacious explosion of talent where star, Andrew Garfield is electric from start to finish. Taking place in 1990 on the precipice of Larson’s 30th birthday, the then-struggling artist is feeling the pressure of age as he struggles to become the musical genius that he knows he is destined to be. It was a time of expression, great music, free spirits, but also the AIDS epidemic that was affecting people that Jonathan loved. tick, tick…BOOM! is a film for those who understand struggle and perseverance. It’s for artists and those who dare to dream big but also for those seeking inspiration. Filled with jolts of pure energy and musical numbers that get the blood pumping, the film is much more than it appears to be. The story exudes tremendous amounts of determination and stands on solid friendships.

While Larson may not come out at the end as a perfect person or someone who made all the right decisions, the fact remains that Andrew Garfield crushed his performance. Also, that’s what makes this story so relatable and so human, he probably made more bad decisions than good, but he kept trying until he got it right. This musical features amazing songs that capture the essence of the era and dazzle the ears. Tunes such as 30/90, No More, Why, and Louder Than Words are sure to leave a lasting impression and move you emotionally. The choreography is lively and fun to watch especially as one number features some very familiar and legendary faces. Not to mention, one of Hip-hop’s best makes an unexpected appearance that put a smile on my face. If you’re new to musicals or not sure if they’re for you, this film is a great place to start. It’s an emotional roller coaster that will make you want to take the ride again and again. Fans of the stage production will fall back in love and newbies will want to see more. Miranda knocked his first pitch out of the park with tick, tick…BOOM!. Its rewatchability is high.

tick, tick…BOOM! (L-R) ROBIN DE JESUS as MICHAEL, MJ RODRIGUEZ as CAROLYN, BEN LEVI ROSS as FREDDY as FREDDY in tick, tick…BOOM!. Cr. MACALL POLAY/NETFLIX © 2021
tick, tick…BOOM! (L-R) ANDREW GARFIELD as JONATHAN LARSON in tick, tick…BOOM!. Cr. MACALL POLAY/NETFLIX © 2021

Pacing & Pop

The film moves at a very up-tempo and brisk pace. What popped for me was the contagious exuberant atmosphere of the film. Before you know it, you’re tapping your feet and fingers and fully invested in the story.

tick, tick…BOOM! (L-R) VANESSA HUDGENS as KARESSA in tick, tick…BOOM!. Cr. MACALL POLAY/NETFLIX © 2021
tick, tick…BOOM! (L-R) ANDREW GARFIELD as JONATHAN LARSON, ROBIN DE JESUS as MICHAEL in tick, tick…BOOM!. Cr. MACALL POLAY/NETFLIX © 2021

Characters & Chemistry

Academy Awards, Andrew Garfield has entered the chat. As I said previously, Andrew Garfield is astounding as Jonathan Larson. In one of the best performances of his career, he dominates every scene as he completely gives himself to the role. He’s vibrant, creative, and fiercely determined. There is one other grand performance and that is of Robin de Jesus as Michael. There’s an honest light that de Jesus brings to his role and makes him stand out in every scene. Also, while Garfield had to learn to sing for this role and did it tremendously, there is Vanessa Hudgens (Karessa) who is all too familiar with it. While her role may not have been huge, her singing is more amazing than ever.

tick, tick…BOOM! released in select theaters on November 12 but will begin streaming on Netflix on November 19, 2021. Stay safe and enjoy.

Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Writers: Steven Levenson (Screenplay), Jonathan Larson (Based on the Musical by)

Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Julie Oh p.g.a., Lin-Manuel Miranda p.g.a.

Executive Producers: Celia Costas, Julie Larson, Steven Levenson

Songs and Score: Jonathan Larson

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1h 55m

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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