“Tick, Tick… Boom!” Netflix Movie Review

posted November 29, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D’Ovidio.

The film adaptation of the musical “Tick, Tick… Boom!” was released on Netflix this past Friday.

Between the delays due to COVID-19, the film starring Andrew Garfield, and the directorial debut for musical theater legend Lin Manuel Miranda this movie was highly anticipated.

“Tick, Tick… Boom” is based on the musical from the same name. Initially performed by Jonathon Larson as a solo piece or a rock monologue in 1990. It originally ran under the titles “30/90” and “Boho Days.”

It was revived in 1996 following Larson’s death after playwright David Auburn revived it.

The film and musical are both semi-autobiographical, following the life of Johnathon Larson. For those unfamiliar with Larson, he is famous for writing the iconic musical “Rent.”

Many topics and settings of “Tick, Tick… Boom” and “Rent” are shared. Being a young adult living in poverty in New York City at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a massive part of both of Larson’s works.

“Tick, Tick… Boom” follows Johnathon (played by Garfield) speaking to an audience about his fear of turning 30. He feels his life ticking away as he hasn’t had his big break with his musicals yet.

The film is structured so that as Larson tells his story to the audience in the movie, the viewers get to watch the events Larsons describes to his audience.

Larson presents himself as a struggling musician working part-time at the Moondance Diner. He is also working out his musical “Superbia” as he is preparing it for his workshop.

Larson is a frustrating main character as many of his actions are highly destructive. He is so confident that he is the future of musical theater and that his music will become a success after his workshop he quits his job at the diner.

Despite not being able to afford a party, he does so to celebrate his girlfriend Susan’s dance performance. He doesn’t put in any effort to find a new roommate after he moved out to live in a nicer apartment since he now makes enough money to afford it.

It is evident that Larson is a dreamer, and this is clear throughout the film. He has no sense of realism. When Susan asks him what he thinks of moving out to the Berkshires because she would have a job there, he practically laughs.

He is frustrated with his roommate for giving up his dream of becoming an actor, opting to work in advertising to make a living.

However, Larson remains extremely likable as his positivity and confidence are contagious throughout the film.

The theme of time running out is perfectly executed in “Tick, Tick… Boom.” While Larson feels like he is running out of time to make his big break, many of his friends face the fact that they will die young after getting diagnosed with HIV.

Having the parallel between the meticulous Larson and many of his dreamer friends makes this film incredibly heartbreaking. Larson talks about having to watch many of his friends die young.

“Tick, Tick… Boom” is a beautiful film, and even those who don’t particularly enjoy musicals will enjoy this watch.

The cast is phenomenal, with Garfield putting on one of his best performances to date. He is electric while portraying Larson and his vocal performance is equally impressive.

Garfield was not a singer before this project and took both vocal and piano lessons to play the part. Considering many of the other actors on the project come from a musical theater background, he needed to pull his weight.

Garfield’s hard work paid off, and it would be hard to imagine another actor playing this part.

The rest of the cast also performs great performances like Alexandra Shipp as Susan and Robin de Jesus as Micheal, Larson’s ex-roommate and best friend.

“Tick, Tick… Boom” is an incredible feat for Miranda for his directorial debut. It would have been very easy for this movie to become confusing as the scenes cut back from Larson performing to the audience and Larson in real-time.

However, Miranda’s direction helped translate the musical to screen well. Many recent musical adaptations have been met with poor critical reception. “Tick, Tick… Boom” feels authentic, and when the characters break out into song, it is never off-putting.

“Tick, Tick… Boom” was a wonderful celebration not only of Larson’s life but a triumphant musical movie.  

Rating: 4/5 stars

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year communications major. To contact her sgd5184@psu.edu.