Film Review: Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)

Tick, Tick… Boom! is the directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda, acclaimed creator of the Broadway hits In the Heights and Hamilton. It tells the story of musical composer Jonathan Larson, and is based on Larson’s own autobiographical musical, also called Tick, Tick… Boom!

In other words, this is a musical film, directed by a musical composer, which is about a musical composer and adapted from that same composer’s musical about the writing of his first musical.

Just slightly meta, huh?

Going into this knowing basically nothing about Larson himself, I nonetheless had a really fun time watching his character, played by Andrew Garfield, tread the rough waters of finding a career in the musical industry. As someone with a keen interest in the arts myself, he came across as a pretty relatable character. Garfield gives a very energetic performance for such a passionately-obsessive character. By all means, this portrayal showcases Larson’s addictive personality and ‘full-steam-ahead’ attitude.

But as fun as Garfield is in this role, herein lies an issue I have with the film. I have no problems with Garfield in particular, but the way the character was written towards the end seemed flawed.

As the movie goes on, several of Larson’s close friends start dealing with personal issues of their own, and although there are some very meaningful moments between those characters and Larson, regarding those problems, it feels like none of those moments have much longevity; very little of the emotional impact felt in those moments carries through the rest of the movie, as Larson reverts back to his ‘full-steam-ahead’ attitude. Unfortunately, this disperses some sympathy that the audience inherently has for the character, as he seems, at times, too caught up in his own obsession to carry that emotional baggage with him except for the initial scene in which those problems are introduced.

Additionally, the plot itself is actually rather weak, as it falls victim to several clichés and tropes throughout. I will say, however, that that flaw isn’t as glaring as it might be in other films simply due to the presentation format. Not ALL musicals can get away with it, but Tick, Tick… Boom! has enough general levity and lightheartedness that it isn’t a crushing issue overall.

Speaking of levity and lightheartedness, the songs throughout are all very memorable. Originally composed by Larson for his aforementioned biographical musical, some of the standouts for me are the lead song, “30/90” and the acapella track, “BoHo Days.”

How does Tick, Tick… Boom! do overall? Pretty well. It may not be the Best Picture contender that some had it chalked up as, but it’s still a very fun movie with some really fun moments and a naturally informative nature.

Overall rating: 7/10

Published by Jeremy Bader

Aspiring writer, film and music lover, drummer.

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