Dear Evan Hansen

September 24, 202140/1006 min
Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Amanda Stenberg, Nik Dodani
Written by
Steven Levenson
Directed by
Stephen Chbosky
Run Time. 2h 11min
Release Date. September 24th, 2021
Overall Score
Rating Summary

A musicals tend to be really hit or miss type of movies. For every La La Land and The Greatest Showman, there is a Cats, which instead of bringing home awards like it did on the stage it was mocked for what it became. Now comes another Broadway sensation in Dear Evan Hansen, in which the core of its story is about bringing people together, but the question becomes will the film do the same, sadly I don’t think it will. Evan (Ben Platt) is that kid in high school who you would see sit by himself, if you even noticed him at all. Now starting his senior year, Evan is writing letters to himself, a request by his therapist, trying to convince himself that this year will be different. Of course things start off the same, but a moment in the library will change a lot of people’s trajectories for the year.

While writing one of his letters, a boy named Connor (Colton Ryan) starts to chat with Evan, even offering to be the first to sign his cast, so it looked like they both had friends. When Conner finds the letter Evan wrote to himself he takes it as Evan mocking him and takes the letter and storms out of the room. Evan being who he is, is more worried about the letter being posted on-line more than anything, but that changes when he finds out Connor took his own life. Evan meets Connor’s parents, Cynthia (Amy Adams) and Larry (Danny Pino), who is actually Connor’s step-dad. It is at that meeting that they tell Evan that the only thing he left was the letter to him, but instead of telling him he had wrote it, Evan just went along with it, not knowing what to say. Written for the screen from Steven Levenson, for the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen never seems to find its footing on the screen. It could be that the movie peaks at about the half way point with its most famous number “You Will Be Found”, only to never get even close to that high again. While it is nice to have Platt on board, who is the only member of the cast to appear from the stage, it doesn’t help at 27 he might look a little too old to be playing a high school kid. Much like the films quality, Evan’s lie  starts to act like a snowball rolling down the hill. It is the lack of honesty about the author of the letter that soon turns into a thing that Evan can no longer control. It doesn’t help that he makes up stories about him and Connor spending time under the belief it is helping his family, but no good deed goes unpunished.

That is the feeling I got while watching Evan’s house of cards start to come down, that even if the story has good intentions, enough things can get in the way to mute that. The word that best describes this effort is uninspired, from everything to Platt’s performance, to director Stephen Chbosky’s direction. Other than a couple of songs, including the before mentioned You Will Be Found, did I even care about was being sung and while I heard some sniffles during a few numbers, I also heard some laughter, which is never a good thing. I have not seen the stage version, but I do know it is highly thought of. This film version did not help me see what the hype is all about, as it did nothing for me, as the misses sure outweigh the hits, and in the end just makes you want to say Dear Evan Hansen, do better.


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