On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City.
‘Tick Tick… Boom!’ sees Lin-Manuel Miranda steps into the director’s chair on a film set for the first time after a series of successes on Broadway, and it is a story very much set in the area that made him famous. ‘Tick Tick… Boom!’ is no doubt a story close to his heart as it tells the story of a fellow Broadway musical creator in Jonathan Larson, best known for ‘Rent‘, the mid-90s musical that had a rockier edge than much of the fare that was popular on Broadway at the time. It stars Andrew Garfield as Larson and is framed around Larson’s attempts to get a previous musical funded prior to his later success.
Larsen tragically died suddenly at 36 and he never saw the success ‘Rent‘ would become, and that hangs over ‘Tick Tick… Boom!’ despite this being an adaptation of an earlier musical Larsen did (of the same name), focusing on his experiences trying to create a previous musical called Superbia, which got him noticed, but not enough to get it on stage. Garfield makes for a pretty good lead in a role that requires lots of singing and dancing, not something he’s done a huge amount of before, whilst there are some fun performances in the supporting cast including Judith Light and Bradley Whitford as theatre legend Stephen Sondheim. I was drawn into the story and invested in the characters, but I found the musical numbers to be largely forgettable, if pleasant enough, and there was little here to make it stand out amongst the many other musicals we’re starting to see appearing today (ironically, Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’ is a big influence on the returning popularity of the genre).
‘Tick Tick… Boom!’ is an enjoyable movie that allows Miranda to pay tribute to one of his musical theatre influences and whilst there’s little new or particularly memorable here, it’s a heartfelt story, well told and well-acted by Garfield and the rest of the cast.
Directed By: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Vanessa Hudgens, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Mj Rodriguez, Ben Levi Ross, Richard Kind, Bradley Whitford and Judith Light