Every once in a while, a story comes along that is so touching, so inspirational, so beautiful that it makes you stop and think about how you view the world. Dear Evan Hansen, as it turns out, is not that story, though scores of obsessed fans of the Broadway show could’ve had me fooled. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a brief rundown of the actual plot of this real story that someone thought was a good idea (spoiler alert, but who really cares?): After Troubled Teen™ Connor Murphy takes his own life, friendless Evan Hansen claims that he was the subject of Connor’s suicide note, and constructs an entire web of lies to pretend he was secretly best friends with Connor. He grows close with the Murphy family and starts dating Connor’s sister Zoe, whom he had a crush on before any of this started. Inevitably, this doesn’t end well.
So there you have it—an inspirational story about how you can lie your way to a new life in 12 easy steps! Before the movie even premiered, it was being maligned for the nepotism-fueled casting of its lead character, but watching it, I felt extremely uncomfortable,, and not just because I got rained on on the way to the theater. If you want to see it, I’d recommend bringing a flask or an edible, but be warned: it’s a bumpy ride. Here are some of my lingering questions after seeing the musical misfire of the season.
Why Does He Look Like That?
By now, we’ve all heard the complaints that Ben Platt looks too old to be playing a high schooler, and while I certainly don’t disagree, there’s something else even more upsetting about his physical appearance. Simply put, he looks like an embalmed corpse. Somewhere in the process of trying to make him look younger, they landed on a gray-ish skin tone and sweaty sheen that’s really not doing him any favors. No one else in the cast suffers from the undead filter, but it’s particularly noticeable in Platt’s scenes with Amandla Stenberg, whose makeup is like, a little too flawless at all times. Has no one involved with this movie ever seen a teenager?
How Does The Speech Go Viral?
One of the movie’s most baffling sequences is when Evan’s speech at the memorial for Connor ends up online and goes extremely viral, racking up millions of views and bringing in thousands of dollars for the Connor Project. But here’s the thing. In the movie, the speech takes the form of “You Will Be Found,” easily one of the best songs in the score—but the song doesn’t actually happen in the real world. Instead, we’re supposed to believe that Evan fell in the middle of the stage, then stood up and delivered a spoken performance powerful enough to get the attention of people around the world? No, I refuse to believe it. In the real world, this might have gone “viral” in a local moms Facebook group, but that’s about it.
What Are Amy Adams & Julianne Moore Doing Here?
Once upon a time, I guess this was supposed to be a movie with awards buzz, but those days are long past, and this movie’s cast feels like a wasteland of people whose agents told them this would be a slam dunk. Why else would Oscar winner Julianne Moore sign up for a minor role as a tired mom whose only semi-standout moment is a song where she says “truck” half a dozen times? And God bless Amy Adams, because she really tries her best here, but combine this with other recent misfires Hillbilly Elegy and The Woman in the Window, and you have to wonder what’s happening. The woman has six Oscar nominations, let her burst free from this mediocrity!
Where Are The Consequences?
Evan can’t keep the plates spinning forever, and after Alana posts the fake suicide note, he finally comes clean about the fact that he’s been pathologically lying for months. Obviously, Connor’s family is upset, and Evan’s relationship with Zoe (which is built on lies, remember) hits the rocks. But as for any tangible consequences, those don’t really happen. Evan goes back to being unpopular at school, but we never even get the satisfaction of Alana confronting him over his betrayal. He takes a gap year before college, but there’s no inkling that colleges might actually have an issue with this whole situation. And honestly, I feel like the police would have had some questions for Evan, considering he raised $100,000 based on a fraudulent campaign of lies. But hey, I’m sure eating lunch alone for the last week of senior year was rough, too.
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