Last night, I got the opportunity to watch the Dear Evan Hansen movie. It was absolutely phenomenal, and I feel very compelled to write a post about it. I have heard so many conflicted reviews on it. Some people love it, some people hate it, and so I wanted to share my thoughts on it.
(this post will contain spoilers, read at your own risk.)
I wasn’t sure whether I was going to get to see the movie or not. It’s not the kind of movie I would go to see with my family, simply because the story means so much to me and my family tends to be very critical of movies and stories, especially those related to mental health. However, a friend from camp invited me to see it with her and her family, so I gladly accepted.
The very first thing I have to say about the movie is that I started to cry the minute they played the opening notes of “Waving Through A Window” and after that my emotional state went downhill rapidly, but in the best way possible.
The movie cut four songs from the musical: “Anybody Have A Map”, “Disappear”, “To Break in a Glove”, and “Good For You”. That was disappointing, but for the sake of fitting the story into a movie, I can understand why and so it’s not a big deal to me. There’s always the Broadway Cast Recording, which is amazing. In lieu of the cut songs, they added two new songs: “The Anonymous Ones” and “A Little Closer”. I would like them both to be promptly added to the musical, because they were fantastic. And they both made me cry, so there’s that. But seriously, “The Anonymous Ones” was so relatable and has such an important messages. It deserves some attention, even though it wasn’t in the musical.
One thing I also noticed about the songs was a word change in “Requiem”. It was a small change, but to me it made a world of difference. The phrase “I gave you the world” in Larry’s solo was changed to “We gave you the world.” I’m not sure why I liked the change so much, but something about Larry’s “I” in the musical had made me harbor a bit of dislike for him, and the “We” made me like him a lot more.
Speaking of Larry, there’s another change the movie made to him. Instead of being Connor and Zoe’s biological dad like in the musical, in the movie he was their step-dad. I did actually like that angle to it, though.
Overall, the changes made from musical to movie didn’t upset me at all.
The acting in the movie was so powerful, especially on Ben Platt’s part. I know there was some controversy over a 30 year old playing a teenager, but I’m so glad they let Ben Platt play the role. It wouldn’t have been the same without his acting and his singing. He was able to portray Evan so well. I’m not familiar with any of the other actors and actresses in the movie, but I think they all did so well. I was really impressed with Kaitlyn Dever’s acting as Zoe, especially in the movie’s rendition of “Requiem”.
I will say that because the acting was so incredible, watching Evan struggle was somewhat triggering to me as a person with anxiety. It was so hard to watch the scenes of Evan trying so hard not to have a panic attack in the school bathroom, and to watch him shaking and seeing his unconscious nervous tics, simply because I can relate to all of that. I was expecting that, however. I had a really hard time finishing the musical and the book, so I didn’t think the movie would be any different, and since I was expecting it, it wasn’t that bad. If you’re easily triggered, you may want to consider watching it at home as opposed to at theaters, so that you can pause and skip as needed.
If I had been watching the movie alone, I would have bawled. As it was, I just cried silently. But a good kind of crying, if that make sense. I can’t really explain it.
The one part where I laughed out loud was “Sincerely, Me”. Though I was still crying while laughing. XD But good gracious, “Sincerely, Me” was so ridiculous. I pity the people who listen to it or see a clip of it without knowing what the musical is about. They’d be expecting something funny, and then they get something tragic, yet meaningful and heart-warming.
I think one of my favorite scenes in the movie would be the scene where Larry comes home from work and finally breaks down over Connor’s death. That was absolutely heart-breaking, and as you might expect, I poured many tears over it. As an actress, I really appreciated that moment. There were no words. It was just body language and facial expression, and still they managed to get the emotions of the scene across very clearly.
Let’s talk about the content in the movie for a minute. It actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. The language was a lot cleaner than in the book. There was one f-word, as allowed per PG-13 movie, and I wasn’t pleased about that, but not so much that I didn’t watch the movie. There were also a handful of other curse words, but again, not so many as in the book. Aside from the language, there were a couple of very prominent pride flags in the background, but they weren’t the focus of the movie at all. Also, Jared mentions that he hooked up with a guy over the summer, but it was very brief and never mentioned again and I never liked Jared anyway. Other than that, I can’t remember anything bad content wise, so I’d probably give it about 3.5 stars for content.
To sum up my thoughts, this was an incredible, must-watch movie for anyone, whether you struggle with mental illness or not. It made me feel understood, at least for a short while. I’m so pleased that the movie adaptation turned out so well, and I will definitely be watching it again as soon as I get a chance. The acting was incredible, the music was stunning, and the message was so powerful. I’m not sure why there’s been so much criticism of the movie, but I do think it’s undeserved. True, some changes were made, but not so many that the message of the story was altered. And when it comes to a message like the one Dear Evan Hansen portrays, I think it’s incredibly important not to get nit-picky, but to look at the impact a message can make, especially to (in Alana’s words) the anonymous ones.
I hope you’ll take a chance to get acquainted with the story of Dear Evan Hansen, whether it’s through the musical soundtrack, the movie, or the book.