Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature directorial debut, tick, tick… BOOM!, is quite an impressive hit. Although, filmmaking-wise, Miranda has a ways to grow when it comes to handling the film’s structure, the songs, and performances, specifically Andrew Garfield and Robin de Jesús, are snazzy and touching enough to deliver some well-crafted musical punch.
I am not the biggest fan of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning auteur Lin-Manuel Miranda. I didn’t like Hamilton, Vivo, and In the Heights at all, and the only works he’s involved in that I have enjoyed so far are Moana and Mary Poppins Returns, which I defend quite a bit (but that’s another conversation). Each year we get more projects that he’s involved with, having almost 4 to 5 projects in 2021, which bothers me a bit since, again, I’m not a fan. However, his feature directorial debut was way better than what many could have anticipated. By choosing a subject he has so much devotion for, which is noticeable during the film, Lin-Manuel manages to adapt the semi-autobiographical musical tick, tick… BOOM! by Jonathan Larson, the creator of the famous Rent, quite well.
The film follows Jon (Andrew Garfield), a 29-year-old theatre composer, waiting tables at the Moondance diner in 1990 while he writes what he hopes will be the next musical showstopper on the Broadway stage. A few days before he is due to showcase his work, Superbia, Jon feels the pressure from every circumstance in a make-or-break situation. Jon navigates love, friendship, and the strains of life amidst a time of change for both himself and the world. Compared to the other musicals released this year, this one has been the one I have enjoyed the most. Miranda decides to hold back some strings and go on a more straightforward route to his musical to deliver non-exaggerated flash and pizzazz, unlike others do.
Tick, tick… BOOM! begins with a great intro song, “30/90”, that will have you vibing from beginning to end, and it’s one of the highlights from the picture. Other songs or sequences that are noteworthy are “Therapy”, “Come to Your Sense”, and “Johnny Can’t Decide”, however, all the tracks are pretty good. And let’s take a second to praise the cast because all of them did great vocal performances. However, the highlights are the talented Andrew Garfield, who does a tremendous ragdoll-esque performance, and the scene-stealing Robin de Jesús, whose energy and charisma shine as he did in last year’s film adaptation The Boys in the Band. Both have tremendous chemistry and deliver some of the movie’s most touching moments together. What’s great about Garfield’s performance is that he just needed to put his hair up, and he embodied Jonathan Larson; that’s all it took him.
Tick, tick… BOOM! is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “passion project,” a film for theater lovers by a theatre lover. There is a specific scene where there are a lot of Broadway and theatre icons from different eras that will have fans gasping. An homage to the beauty in searching for creativity and following your dreams. It also contemplates the little time we have in life and doing something significant with it. Larson changed the “play game” and has inspired Miranda a lot from what I see in this picture. Many look at Miranda the same way they did Larson back in the day: an icon with a nifty gift. This film makes me respect the man and, even though I am not a fan of his most famous projects, it makes me excited for what the wordsmith has next in-store.