Wait, Lin Manuel Miranda is at it again with another musical? When does he even have the time nowadays? Miranda is certainly one of the busiest creative forces in entertainment right now and it was just a matter of time before Netflix got their claws into him. Going into watching his latest film, I swore that In the Heights would probably be my top musical of the year. But I had another thing coming because tick, tick…Boom! is one of the most surprising films so far this year for me.
What could possibly be so surprising about this film? We all know that Miranda is quite talented, and that Andrew Garfield is a top-notch actor who will most certainly earn more awards attention someday (probably even a lot just this year). But something really came together with this film. The energy level in this film is incredible as this two-hour journey flies by. The unique approach to how the narrative plays out and presented makes for one of the most unique cinematic experiences of the year. Whether it is a live performance on stage, a standard drama scene in film, or something pleasantly unique (like one diner musical number), tick, tick…Boom! will grab you at every turn. Miranda’s voice is boisterous and fully realized in his first directorial effort on film.
But who is the real star of this film? Garfield…no doubt. I was floored by the power that Garfield imbued into his work. Every song is sung with enough emotion to fill up an entire room and the presence he brings is magnetic. I really could not look away whenever he opened his mouth and songs began to flow from it. His portrayal of Jonathan Larson is raw and genuine. He captures arrogance and charm which can be leveraged for support and success. You can feel love at times and equally feel the distance he places between himself and those who care about him. Garfield shows that he can truly do it all in this dynamic and diverse musical.
But of course, we must talk about the music, right? So many of the songs from start to finish are show stealers. Did the film need to compete with itself this hard? Absolutely not! But it sure does. One scene (referenced before in a diner) is not only a great song but boasts some fantastic cameos. I am not an expert when it comes to Broadway shows and musicals, but I know enough to appreciate the love letter that the song was. Alexandra Shipp and Vanessa Hudgens both shine, including during a cross cutting duet between them. Hudgens shines again doing an interesting human puppetry act with Garfield during a tense and emotional time in the film. If you came for great music, this delivers tenfold.
When all is said and done, does tick, tick…Boom! do justice to the legacy of Larson? This is a story to show a flawed man but a man who never stopped chasing his dream. You see a man who struggled with his relationships with this partner (Shipp) and his best friend (a fantastic Robin de Jesus). You see his legacy in motion and song which turns out to be the right type of lover letter to his work. This film is moving and powerful and delivers on so many levels making it a must stream on Netflix.