The year 2021 has been the year of the musical with three already having been released this year. And tick tick… BOOM! isn’t even the last. This film may be the most original of them all, though. It’s not a cookie-cutter musical. That’s a good thing because being original is setting it apart from the other musicals that have come out in 2021.
Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) is a struggling playwright in New York City. He has a job as a waiter in a diner, a girlfriend (Alexandra Shipp), and a group of theater friends he hangs out with. His sole purpose in life is to be a successful producer of a popular Broadway play. Every waking moment he is trying to write songs for his musical, leaving him little time for anybody else in his life.
As far as musicals go, this one is very entertaining and different then others I’ve seen before. It has a through-line of the production being performed by Jonathan and his band and a handful of performers. Then it has a time-lapse story of how Jonathan got to this point in his career. Plus it has archival footage that depicts him as a youth growing up. All of these different methods to tell this story worked perfectly. They didn’t make the film confusing or convoluted. They all worked.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has had his hands in a few film productions this year including In the Heights, Encanto, and now tick, tick… BOOM! The first is a musical about his life growing up in Washington Heights, New York. The second is an animated film about a Latino girl in Colombia. The only difference between the others and tick, tick… BOOM! is that this is him directing his first feature film. He knows a little about the world he’s dealing with having been involved in his own productions of Hamilton and In the Heights.
His expertise in this world has prepared him to lead a full-on production of tick, tick… BOOM! His ability to write songs and perform has helped make this a very entertaining film. The songs sung by Garfield and the rest of the cast meld perfectly into the overall narrative of the film. “Come to Your Senses” is the standout song in the film among many others.
Andrew Garfield is the real star of this production, though. Not the music. He makes it all matter with his amazing performance. His performance runs the gamut of emotions. He cries and he laughs and does everything in-between while singing many of the songs in the film. Garfield has had quite the year in 2021 with three big films, Mainstream, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and tick, tick… BOOM! This may be his second chance at an Academy Award nomination though after playing Desman Daws in Hacksaw Ridge.
Even though this year has had a handful of musicals come out and has one more on the way, this one may stand the test of time. It has a great biopic aspect to it as well as the musical aspects. It mixes everything it’s trying to do together quite nicely. The performance by Garfield sets it apart from the others. The songs are catchy and the production as a whole works even though it has different styles within it to create the narrative. Miranda seems to turn whatever he touches into gold and I think this film from Netflix will be no different.
Dan Skip Allen
Founder/EIC disappointment media