It’s funny that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s screen adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick…Boom! is out this month. I was just thinking (with the latest Spider-man: No Way Home trailer online) about how Andrew Garfield might have ended up with the worst SM franchise, but the best overall career between himself, Tobey Maguire and now Tom Holland.
After The Amazing Spider-man films (2012-14) fizzled out, it seemed Garfield’s hype might have already peaked since there were a couple of years where we didn’t hear from him. Fortunately, things started looking up again for the young actor once he received an Oscar nomination for Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge (2016).
Tick, Tick…Boom!, along with Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye from earlier this year, shows Garfield still has his place in modern film as a viable performer.
Based on the semi-autobiographical 1990 stage musical on Larson’s own early career a la Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz (1979); Tick, Tick…Boom! starts off in 1990 with Jonathan (Garfield) having a quarter-life, existential crisis over the fact that he’s almost 30, yet hasn’t produced a hit stage musical like his idols of the past. His roommate and best friend, Michael (Robin de Jesús) has traded his own musical endeavors for a standard career at an ad agency, and thinks Jonathan should be practical and do similar. His girlfriend, Susan (Alexandra Shipp), wants to move for a nice job offer on the other side of town, but Jonathan feels his place is in the heart of Broadway.
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Vanessa Hudgens co-stars as one of Jonathan’s peers and actors in his workshop, Bradley Whitford appears as musical legend Stephen Sondheim, and many Broadway stars make cameo appearances during the musical number ‘Sunday.’
Larson would prematurely die of a brain aneurysm in 1996, the day before his classic musical, Rent, made its theatre debut. But Tick, Tick…Boom! takes place years before this incident, and we see Garfield express the struggles and journey of a talent’s rise to the top. The film’s direction is naturally, appropriately theatrical and extravagant, of course, as Miranda is one of the top composers in modern musical theatre. But it’s Garfield’s lead performance that keeps our eyes on screen for the whole two-hour movie spectacle.
Not afraid to emote to the fullest in character, as seen with past efforts like David Fincher’s The Social Network (2010) and Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016), Tick, Tick…Boom! proves Garfield’s natural ‘theatre kid’ type personality is perfect for the musical medium. Unlike some film actors who need some anonymous vocal dubbing from professional singers for musical numbers, Garfield’s prep with training before production appears to have paid off, too.
Shipp has enough chemistry as the main love interest without any of her own songs to perform, while Hudgens is right at home with her theatre roots as the actress with the most numbers. For fans of Larson’s musical legacy and contemporary musicals, Tick, Tick…Boom! is a must; and for film viewers interested in seeing Garfield’s range as an actor, it’s a treat.
Do you like musicals? Have you seen Tick, Tick…Boom! on Netflix yet? Tell us in the comments!
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