4 Stars

tick, tick… BOOM! (2021)

After seeing tick, tick,…BOOM!, you may be wanting to ask me a simple question.

I have the answer: No, I had no idea that Andrew Garfield was able to sing.

In his directorial debut, Lin- Manuel Miranda (Hamilton and In the Heights, for those living under a rock the last few years or so) brings to screen the stage musical of the same name, based off the life of Broadway writer Jonathan Larson before his untimely death. While not his more popular work (which would be Rent), it is as close as we could get to the psyche of the real Larson (at least in musical form).

Set in 1990, the movie shows Larson (Garfield) talking to an audience (meant to be us) just days before his 30th birthday, wondering what he can say he has done with his life before his thirties. He is on the cusp of finishing the last song for his new musical Superbia.

 At the same time, he is still trying to be there for many of his homosexual friends, including his best friend Michael (Robin de Jesús), not to mention his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp). Still, he remembers the support he had from the past in the legendary composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim (Bradley Whitford).

As is the case with nearly every musical, memorable songs are essential to success. tick, tick…BOOM! truly has enough of those. The only issue with them (and my main issue with the movie as a whole) are some of the musical numbers. They are all filmed with a certain amount of energy, but some of the screws on them needed to be tightened.

The clear reason for seeing this movie is Andrew Garfield. There are times where it is plausible to believe that the string on his back is pulled when “Action!” is called, and he is let loose. His singing voice is not entirely on point, but it is more on the side of raw and intrinsic. The zenith of his performance is undoubtably the song “Why”, sung toward the end of the film. He does not seem concerned at all about having each note being pitch perfect, but about the subject of the song. He is simply riveting.

Parents, the movie is PG-13 mainly for the swearing (any more and it may have been rated R), including one F bomb. The movie also has its share of thematic elements, and some sexual references (there is some heavy making out with the main character). It is a solid, hard rated PG-13, but it should be okay for middle schoolers who may find an interest in it.

2021 has seen many more musicals than I can remember (or be able to see) in recent years, and we still have some left to come out (Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story is indeed on my radar, as is Cyrano with Peter Dinklage.)  These have included the good (In the Heights, Summer of Soul…or, when the revolution could not be televised), the so-so (Respect) and the ones I am having a hard time forgetting how bad they were (specifically, Dear Evan Hansen and Cinderella).

You can add tick, tick,…BOOM! to the first category.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

3 replies on “tick, tick… BOOM! (2021)”

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