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So Uh … The Reviews for Dear Evan Hansen Are Here and YIKES

Ben Platt as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen

So Dear Evan Hansen is a movie—granted, one I was not looking forward to, but still. It is a movie that is coming out, and I was hoping that it would change my opinion on the Broadway musical it’s based on. As a fan of theatre and musicals, I don’t like when a show doesn’t work for me, especially since I love most everything I see. But Dear Evan Hansen really didn’t work for me, and if these reviews have anything to say about it, the movie won’t, either.

With the movie premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival and kicking the festival off, the reviews are starting to pour in, and they don’t look too good. Sorry, Ben Platt. You look 45 in the trailer for no good reason! (Does this mean I don’t have to see him win an EGOT all for the same role? Because that I would love.)

The Hollywood Reporter said that the “absence of a more cohesive unifying tone is noticeable in director Chbosky’s nonmusical renderings, which also occasionally struggle to find an agreeable balance between the theatrical and the melodramatic.” While the overall review is not entirely scathing, it wasn’t the most positive review, either.

But pair that with Deadline’s, and they straight up call the movie terrible. (Granted, they compare it to Into the Woods, which I did not hate, but still.) When posing the question of where it stands in comparison to other movie musicals, Deadline‘s Valerie Complex had this to say: “Well, it stands closer to Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods (an adaptation of a Broadway play), meaning it’s terrible. Dear Evan Hansen could have been enjoyable, but there are too many glaring problems that can’t be ignored for the sake of entertainment.”

Variety’s Peter Debruge, like myself, went into the movie not being a fan of the stage musical, and the movie didn’t seem to change his tune, writing, “‘Dear Evan Hansen’ rubbed me wrong onstage, and it doesn’t sit well with me now, despite a few smart improvements to the material. Baked into its DNA are three of the sins I find most irksome about young-adult entertainment.”

Richard Lawson from Vanity Fair focused a lot on the fact that star Ben Platt is visibly in his late 20s (and Platt’s performance in general), something that Platt seemed to think doesn’t matter about his performance despite the fact that Evan Hansen is supposed to be an incredibly young high school student. Lawson writes, “Platt is also quite visibly in his late 20s, a far cry from the shivering, barely adolescent pipsqueak Evan is supposed to be. Chbosky and the hair, makeup, and lighting teams can’t do much to cover up that fact, rendering the film’s central character as an interloper oddity from some other-world. Evan Hansen is himself an interloper in his way, but the off-ness of Platt’s presence in the film way overstates the case.”

Here’s the thing: I didn’t have hope for this movie. And I think it is because I am on the side of those who don’t like the musical, and so a movie version didn’t seem like something that was up my alley. Granted, I have not seen the movie yet, but I don’t think my mind is going to be changed, especially because the songs from the musical that DO have Evan realizing the error of his ways were apparently cut from the movie.

Pair that with Platt’s own arrogance in thinking that this movie would never get made without him as Evan despite that casting choice not really working on film, and it just continues to rub me the wrong way. These reviews? Really not helping the case. Maybe I will feel differently when I see the movie. Maybe I will end up liking this Pasek and Paul venture that sounds like the same songs from every other show that they’ve done. But right now, my hopes are not high.

(image: Universal Pictures)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.