tick, tick…BOOM! (2021)

tick tick boom poster 2021 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Solid musical

Not all the music grabs you immediately

Movie Info

Movie Name: tick, tick…BOOM!

Studio:  5000 Broadway Production/Imagine Entertainment

Genre(s): Musical/Drama

Release Date(s):  November 10, 2021 (AFI Fest)/November 12, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

tick tick boom jonathan larson susan wilson andrew garfield alexa shipp

Clearly I’m completely devoted and thinking about you…maybe

Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) feels like time is running out.  He’s about to turn thirty, he’s trying to finish his first musical, his friend Michael (Robin de Jesús) is going places in advertising, and his girlfriend Susan Wilson (Alexandra Shipp) is thinking of leaving New York.  Jonathan feels he’s on a precipice and he could fly or fall.  Music is Larson’s life and if he can’t succeed in theater, can he give it all up?

Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, tick, tick…BOOM! is a musical biopic.  The film is an adaptation of the autobiographical musical of Jonathan Larson (February 4, 1960-January 25, 1996) which premiered in 2001.  The film premiered at AFI Fest with a limited theatrical release on November 12, 2021 followed by wide release on Netflix.  It received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Garfield) and Best Film Editing.

tick tick boom jonathan larson andrew garfield vanessa hudgens

We’re all just passive aggressively fighting

I didn’t know anything about tick, tick…BOOM! other than that it was a musical.  I’m not the biggest Rent fan and quickly realized it was about the Rent creator Jonathan Larson at the opening of the film.  If I had been a Rent fan (or super-fan since they exist), I would have love, loved tick, tick…BOOM!, but even as a quasi-fan, I think tick, tick…BOOM! is a solid musical.

The film is largely about that urgency you feel a few years after graduation.  If you aren’t “someone”, you’re nobody.  It is that panic you get in you that starts to build…and it is universal.  Having passed that period, you realize that it isn’t be-all, end-all, but it still feels like that as you are living it.  In Larson’s case you add the struggle of a smaller window to become “successful” on in the theater crowd before you lose your audience.  The beginning of the film reveals that Larson is facing another timebomb that he doesn’t even know about so his fears aren’t unfounded.

tick tick boom sunday cast

The song that has you saying…”Hey, that’s ______…wait…that’s _____. Is that ______?”

Andrew Garfield feels like he has done a ton, but this role seems to fit him best.  He still has a kid-like face (despite being far older than the character), but being older than Larson helps give a weight to Garfield’s performance that a younger actor might not have had.  Garfield knows what it is like to be on the cusp of stardom and has experienced to highs and lows.  He’s joined by a strong supporting cast including Alexandra Shipp, and Robin de Jesús in the girlfriend-best friend slots but others including Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, Bradley Whitford (playing Stephen Sondheim) and Richard Kind.  The “Sunday” number is an ode to theater with appearances by Bebe Neuwirth, Beth Malone, André De Shields, Phylicia Rashad, Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Howard McGillin, Chuck Cooper, Chita Rivera, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joel Grey, and Bernadette Peters (plus original Rent cast members Adam Pascal, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Wilson Jermaine.  Lin-Manuel Miranda also cameos in the film.

tick tick boom andrew garfield jonathan larson

Time to explode?

The movie is a nice ode to early 1990s NYC.  It is weirdly a place that no longer exists with the city going through a clean-up transition (even just ignoring the huge changes to the south end after the events of 9-11).  Part of the character is the life and lure of the big city and what it means to make it in New York and the visuals play with that while mixing in some solid musical numbers.

tick, tick…BOOM! is a smart musical.  Larson’s music feels kind of specific and their tone, pacing, and delivery matches Rent.  This in its own way feels like an expansion of that musicals themes by a creator whose life was cut short before he could see the success he spawned.  Life comes at you fast, and Larson sees this.  The explosion is coming and tick, tick…BOOM! is a nice result.

Related Links:

The 94th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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