6.5/10 Not to be confused with the imaginary Saliva biopic, “Click Click Boom”, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature length directorial debut (he did direct an hour long movie in 1996) shows potential as a director but falls short due to some familiar problems. As for what worked, Miranda obviously has his entire background in musical theater and writing/composing music so the story of Jonathan Larson was perfect for someone like him to tell. I enjoyed his direction as he is able to transition the story from the stage to the big screen with visual flair and sustain the two hour running time. Larson was an extremely talented individual so the vast majority of the music in the film is catchy and well done. Perhaps the best aspect of the film is the acting. Following “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and now this, Andrew Garfield is having an incredible year, showing off his range and continuing to find strong, real life characters to portray. If he keeps this trajectory up, he will join actors like Joaquin Phoenix and Jake Gyllenhaal as one of the best actors in all of Hollywood. While I expect great things from Garfield, I was genuinely surprised by the career best performance from Vanessa Hudgens. Her duet with Garfield during the song “Therapy” was one of the highlights of the film. Alexandra Shipp also makes the most of her limited screen time and I enjoyed that the outcome of Garfield and Shipp’s relationship felt realistic and authentic. As for what didn’t work, the biggest issue I had with the film is what I call “The New York Problem”. I had the same issue with the God awful “In the Heights” movie from earlier this year. Many New Yorkers (definitely not all of them) are extremely pretentious and act like they are better than others just for living in New York City as they claim (falsely in my opinion) that NYC is the greatest city on Earth. Since Broadway is in NYC, I understand its importance with the story but this is a film that will not appeal to many people outside of the New York/Broadway atmosphere because it alienates the audience. On a side note, before I get criticism, I’ve spent a lot of time in NYC for both business and pleasure so this isn’t coming from someone who has never been there before. The film gets unnecessary political and made me dislike the film’s protagonist during a scene when he is asked what words come to mind when he thinks of America and his answer in his head is something along the lines of “Empire, genocide, racism and Vietnam”. The irony of anti-American sentiment coming from a character who is able to get paid to write musicals and have the freedom to say/write anything he wants (try making a living doing that in 80% of other countries around the globe) was pretty rich and equally annoying. While based on a true story, just because something happened doesn’t mean it won’t be cliché if it has been overdone in so many similar movies. I am referring to a gay character (or two) dying of AIDS. If you have a NYC set film about Broadway but don’t have a gay character with AIDS, does the film truly exist? We’ve seen that plot point in so many movies that it does become cliché and feels totally predictable. Miranda and screenwriter Steven Levenson’s leftist politics do distract from the truly incredible but brief life that Larson lived. While the film educated me on Larson and filled me in on facts that I previously didn’t know about (I knew he created “Rent” because I wrote/directed a musical when I was younger and I took the song “Rent” and spoofed it, turning it into a song about “Lent”), the politics became alienating. Luckily, the fantastic soundtrack, solid pacing, strong direction and phenomenal cast of talented actors, singers and dancers help to swallow the self-masturbatory nature of pretentious New Yorkers and occasional annoyance of out of touch, artistic types. Worth it for the musical aspects alone, “tick, tick…Boom!” is great for musical fans if you keep your expectations in check as we hold out for Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake in just over a week.

#dickdickDoom / #LastNightInBoho / #RelationShippIssues / #TrackFlawBridge / #MyCoolMusical / #FlawedWayMusical

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