‘Dear Evan Hansen’: not as bad as critics say


Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“Dear Evan Hansen” is being shown in local theatres near you.

Emma Bartlett, Arts & Culture Editor

With weeks leading up to the debut of the “Dear Evan Hansen” movie, excited viewers heard some disappointing news: the movie was a bust. Between negative reviews from major media outlets and Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a whopping 32%, those who were previously excited about the Broadway musical being turned into a movie were hesitant to view it.

However, critics’ negative remarks about this movie should be taken with a grain of salt. While there were some laughable moments that really should not have been laughable, the movie gave people what they wanted: Ben Platt’s beautiful voice and a film that fans could watch anytime instead of having to sell their house to watch a live performance on Broadway.

The movie focuses on Evan Hansen, a high school senior with extreme anxiety who finds himself in a lie that can hurt his life and the lives of those around him. He is actively in therapy and must write letters to himself, which act as small pep talks.

On the first day of school, Evan is extremely nervous and writes a letter to himself in the library. He begins it with “Dear Evan Hansen” and ends with “Sincerely Me.” When Evan prints the letter, Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) — a misunderstood, sullen teenager who has no friends — discovers it.

Connor becomes paranoid after seeing his sister’s name in the letter and accuses Evan of trying to make fun of him. Connor storms off with the letter, leaving Evan afraid that Connor will share the note on social media.

Three days later, Evan is called into the principal’s office where Connor’s parents inform Evan that Connor killed himself. They said he wrote a suicide note to Evan and handed him the letter Connor took.

Evan tries explaining the misunderstanding, but his awkwardness and need to please people get in the way, so he lies and says he was Connor’s best friend. From there, the lie grows bigger and bigger.

Part of critics’ problem with the movie is that twenty-eight-year-old Ben Platt is playing eighteen-year-old Evan Hansen and the age distinction is obvious. But, if you can get past Platt’s overt emphasis on trying to make himself look like a rejected, lonely teenager, then the movie seems more believable.

Another large controversy is that Platt played his part as if he were on stage and not in a movie. This observation is very evident, which is why some of his expressions seem overemphasized and a bit inauthentic.

Aside from critics’ opinions, the movie took the liberty of cutting three songs, like “Does Anybody Have a Map?” which is a duet between Connor and Evan’s moms. The song is about figuring out how to navigate the difficulties that their sons are experiencing. “To Break in a Glove” and “Good For You” (pre-Olivia Rodrigo) also did not make the cut for the film.

While it was disappointing to see that not all the songs from the musical made it into the movie, producers added a special treat in the form of the song “The Anonymous Ones.” Sung by Alana Beck (Amandla Stenberg), the piece addresses mental health and how people can hide it well but still struggle with it.

Some of the best musical numbers in the film included “Sincerely Me” which should be praised for its choreography and intriguing use of camera angles and “You Will Be Found,” which implemented great graphics that included an interesting twist toward the end of the song.

While Platt did sing into viewers’ souls with what seemed to be pupil less eyes, being able to see the original Broadway star on the big screen with surround sound was a treat for audience members. Anyone who loves the songs will enjoy the film, even if things like Evan’s age and Platt’s characterization of him might be difficult to adjust to.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is 2 hours and 17 minutes long and tickets can be purchased at the Picture Show at SouthCoast Marketplace in Fall River, MA and the Showcase on Route 6 in Seekonk, MA.