tick, tick…Boom

Okay, I wasn’t ready for that.

Andrew Garfield is utterly brilliant in the role of real-life music composer Jonathan Larson, who would create one of the great musicals of the last 30 years in Rent.

However, Jon did not explode upon the Broadway scene and take over. He struggled for years on a musical he was writing called Superbia, but he was mere days away from presenting the musical in a showcase for producers. One problem, the musical was missing one key song and Jon was not having success in writing it.

As this is going on, he was having trouble with his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp), pressure from his best friend Michael (Robin de Jesus) and money issues. He was having challenges with his agent Rosa (Judith Light) who was not calling him back. Still, some constructive words from legend Stephen Sondheim (Bradley Whitford) kept Jon’s hopes alive through the wars.

This was based on a musical written by Jonathan Larson and you can feel the passion and the energy throughout the entire two hour run time. The music was catchy and engaging and built into some of the more powerful songs I’ve heard in a musical in awhile.

As I mentioned, Andrew Garfield has to be considered a shoo-in for an Academy Award nomination for his performance in this film. He performed the songs himself and he imbued them with such a goofy, but sincere energy that you can not help but love him, which only served the film’s emotional beats well.

Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his feature film directorial debut with tick, tick…Boom and he stands out a he always seems to do. Some of the shots he got during the music were amazing and he was able to move the story along between songs breathlessly. He used Jonathan on stage as a framing devise to help movie the story forward while still being completely entertaining.

Robin de Jesus was given one of the most powerful of scenes and he nailed it. I loved Judith Light’s performance too, avoiding the clichés of the entertainment agent and embracing the realness of the character. Alexandra Shipp is a damn star. You cannot take your eyes off of her while she is on screen. She and Andrew Garfield share remarkable chemistry and it shows.

This is the second amazing musical of 2021 that has had Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to it. In the Heights was a rollicking good time, and I think tick, tick…Boom matches the spark, the vitality of that work.

It’s been a great year to be a musical. This movie is debuting this week on Netflix.

5 stars

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