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The Hollywood Insider tick, tick…Boom! Review

 Photo: ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’

In March 2020, the legendary marquee lights of Broadway dimmed. In the wake of COVID19, iconic shows that drew in thousands of tourists and theater fans per year closed their doors and came to a screeching halt. Now, Broadway is ready to make an overdue comeback that will again attract thousands to experience the enchantment of live theater. There could be no better time than now for Lin-Manual Miranda to make his directorial debut with the feature film ‘Tick, Tick… BOOM!’ starring Andrew Garfield playing the acclaimed musical theater legend Jonathan Larson. The much-anticipated film premiered on November 12 and will be available to stream on Netflix on November 19. 

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Andrew Garfield returns to the big screen solidifying his versatility by flawlessly channeling Jonathan Larson, the music theater mastermind behind Broadway’s iconic ‘Rent.’  Garfield’s fearless portrayal of the original creator of ‘Tick, Tick…BOOM!’ is a stunning feat that captures the collective spirit of struggling young artists daring to ignore the signals of capitalism to fulfill artistic dreams. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first feature film is an unmistakable ode to Larson’s lasting influence on musical theater and a love letter to the seemingly insulated world of Broadway that nurtures the creative spirit. 

A Semi-Autobiographical Play Within a Film

Miranda’s film is a reflection on Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical play ‘Tick, Tick…BOOM!’ while pivoting toward the emotional strain Larson endured to create a generational play that changed the world of musical theater. The film honors Larson’s commitment to creative achievements and separated commercial success from artistic dreams. Larson’s unnerving passion is exuberated through Andrew Garfield’s magnetic and charismatic performance provides a sense of humanity to an elusive figure such as Larson. Garfield’s experience with theater prompted his casting following his Tony award-winning role in ‘Angel’s in America.’

Lin Manuel Miranda enlists the talents of Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, and Joshua Honey to champion the passionate world of Jonathan Larson. The film pays tribute to acclaimed Broadway stars by featuring Bernadette Peters and Chita Rivera, among many others. Broadway fans will fall in love with the all-consuming talent and unrivaled vocals of a richly diverse cast. The film celebrates the elusive life of Larson and the influence behind creating a Broadway play that became a global phenomenon. 

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At 30 years old, Jonathan Larson lived in Lower Manhattan, working part-time at the Moondance Diner while finishing his play ‘Superbia.’ His girlfriend, played by Alexandra Shipp, is an aspiring dancer. She feels disillusioned by the competitive nature of Broadway. The strain of their relationship coincides with Larson’s singular vision toward chasing dreams. Larson’s best friend Michael sacrificed his dreams of becoming an actor and became lured by the financial promises of corporate ambition.

‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’ 

Michael encourages Larson to redirect his creative talents toward a more profitable yet lackluster career in commercial marketing. Larson’s relationships reveal a disconnect between the tempting arms of capitalism and a man hyper-focused on the artistic search for success. Larson is the abstract image of a man who entrusts his soul to the disrupting characteristics of theater and rejects the financial security of a world beyond the gilded walls of Broadway. All the while, Miranda’s directorial perspective focuses on Larson’s self-imposed urgency to achieve his artist dreams by the time he’s 30. The anxiety-inducing awareness of the ticking is a metaphysical reminder that Larson’s ambitions are purposeful.

 At 35, Larson’s hard work garners recognition for his play ‘Rent,’ a richly diverse story that transformed Broadway and catapulted musical theater into a new dimension. Despite the success of ‘Rent,’ Larson died the night before the play premiered on Broadway and was cheated out of witnessing his life’s work come to fruition. Garfield embodies the man who devoted his life to an artistic discipline that forces creatives to face pain and fear all for the pursuit of the craft. Larson pushes against capitalistic ideals to cultivate his hunger for success and musical theater.

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Larson’s ambition introduces him to an uncharted world that thrives on creativity and innovative pursuit. Through Garfield’s performance, Larson becomes a mesmerizing and anxiety-inducing presence. A collective sense of doom follows Larson as the minutes of his life tick just when he’s at the cusp of box-office success. Miranda encompasses the passion that drives many young artists to endure financial distress and uncertainty with the hopes of finding triumph in a highly competitive discipline. 

Lin Manuel Miranda and His Leading Man

Lin-Manuel Miranda found his leading man while watching Andrew Garfield perform in Broadway’s ‘Angels in America.’ Garfield later went on to win a Tony award for his impressive performance delighted theater fans and critics. His intensity and forceful performance convinced Miranda to cast him as the one to capture the ambiguous essence of Larson. Miranda notes, “… he’s such a beast, and he’s so incredible on stage, and Jonathan Larson was a creature of the theater. I just left feeling like, ‘That guy can do anything.’” No doubt, Garfield’s vocals in ‘Tick, Tick…BOOM!’ prove that he is a limitless powerhouse with an astonishing emotional range that allowed him to contribute to a complex character and the film’s distinctive voice.

Lin-Manuel Miranda himself once performed in an off-Broadway production of ‘Tick, Tick…BOOM!’ that planted the seeds for Miranda’s objective to interpret the artist behind the play. ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’ is a compelling display of cinematic achievement that celebrates the energetic force of Broadway. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Tick, Tick… BOOM!’ will undoubtedly become a formidable contender for the upcoming Oscars ceremony in 2022. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Steven Levenson composed a deeply profound narrative executed by superb casting and the disarming acting of Andrew Garfield.  

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Leave it to Lin-Manuel Miranda to mark the opening season of Broadway with a feature film that epitomizes the unflinching admiration and adoration for New York City and musical theater. ‘Tick, Tick…BOOM!’ is a culmination of Miranda’s impeccable artistic vision and Garfield’s palpable performance that embodies the fighting spirit of Jonathan Larson. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Tick, Tick… BOOM!’ is a cinematic experience that perfectly delivers the allure of Broadway to the silver screen and soon Netflix. 

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens

Screenplay: Steven Levenson

Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

By Gina Michele Yaniz

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he tackles more than just police reform, press freedom and more – click here.

An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “The Hollywood Insider fully supports the much-needed Black Lives Matter movement. We are actively, physically and digitally a part of this global movement. We will continue reporting on this major issue of police brutality and legal murders of Black people to hold the system accountable. We will continue reporting on this major issue with kindness and respect to all Black people, as each and every one of them are seen and heard.

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