Movie Review: Dear Evan Hansen

The movie “Dear Evan Hansen” is based on the Broadway play with the same name. This film starts out with the main character singing and at the beginning I was worried that this movie was going to be entirely a musical. The good news is this film is right on the line where musical lovers will like it and people who hate musicals will be able to tolerate the singing. Regardless, the star of Dear Evan Hansen Ben Platt is an outstanding singer and actor. So much so that I thought he should be the odds on favorite to win best actor in a movie this year.

This story is about high school, bullying, trying to fit in, trying to feel good about yourself within a group of people you are forced to be with because you have no other choice. You care so deeply about what others think of you, especially when you are a teenager in high school. What is this almost unidentifiable sickness that is at its worst during our youth, when so many young people derive a sadistic high from destroying someone else – very often to the point of suicide?

I thought this story was outstanding, with numerous complicated twists and turns that demonstrate so well the anomalies of human emotion, empathy, jealousy, cruelty and the phenomenon that when some of us die, others who knew us when we were alive forget who we really were. In this story a young boy who had major emotional problems and who bullies Evan Hansen and others, later takes his own life and then, only because he died, becomes a hero with all his fellow high school students. The mother of this boy, played very well by Amy Adams is so filled with denial and grief – Evan decides to do a good deed that backfires, setting the stage for a complex series of events proving that even the whitest of lies can sometimes become a bad thing. That old famous phrase, “No good deed goes unpunished”. Julianne Moore plays Evan’s mother and she has several scenes with Ben Platt that stand out in this movie.

Much to my shock and surprise, the across the board ratings of 36% of Rotten Tomatoes and 5.7 on IMDB are idiotically low. By far, the most inaccurate opinions I have ever read about any movie. Ben Platt’s performance and singing in his film, give it at least an 85% rating. The real shame is that because of the low consensus opinions for Dear Evan Hansen, Ben Platt might not even be nominated for best Actor. Go figure. I hope I am wrong.

For those who hate musicals and I am one of them, this movie has just enough singing where you will not run screaming in the parking lot and enough great story and acting to be a very enjoyable two hours. For this one, ignore the stupid critics this time around because Dear Evan Hansen is a must see.