Dear Evan Hansen Review

Dear+Evan+Hansen+Review

Lauren Cottrell, Staff Writer

When I first heard of the movie adaptation to the groundbreaking musical “Dear Evan Hansen”, as a massive fan of Broadway and all things musical, I vowed to be first in line to see the film. However, I am disheartened to report that the movie was simply not what I had expected. 

While attempting to look past the obvious age of the 30 year old actors playing high school students took copious amounts of imagination, that is not my primary reason for disliking the film. I am a massive Ben Platt fan; therefore, Platt’s age was easier to overlook. I was mainly disturbed by the choice to cut the musical’s opening song, “Does Anybody Have a Map?” which portrays Evan Hansen and Connor Murphy’s mothers’ exasperation at having no clue what they should do to support their teenage sons. The song provides critical substance to the play, making the larger argument that even grownup figures who may seem to have themselves together are also struggling with similar emotions of confusion that high schoolers experience. 

Front of “Dear Evan Hansen” movie poster
Photo provided by Wikipedia.

Another major issue I found with the film adaptation was the lessening of the role Jared Kleinman (Evan Hansen’s friend who is adamant that their relationship is purely because their families are close). In the musical, Jared Kleinman was a major supporting role, unlike the film where he is more of a side character. What was so critical to Jared Kleinman’s character is that despite his front of being “too cool” for Hansen, he also felt similar feelings of loneliness. Casting Jared aside in the film adaptation made the overall message of the filmthat while you may be struggling “you are not alone”less clear. 

Finally, Evan Hansen’s redemption at the end of the film was particularly annoying. While I loved Stephen Chbosky’s work in the writing and direction of Perks of Being a Wallflower, I believe redeeming Evan Hansen was the wrong call. What many critics find disturbing with the movie is that it seems to glorify Evan’s clearly wrong actions. In the musical, Evan Hansen does not vindicate himself and must wrestle with the effects of his actions. In the film, they attempt to create a happy ending by having Evan attempt to right his unrightable wrongs. The message portrayed through Evan Hansen is skewed through this changed ending scene, making it seem as though everything will always work out. However, what is so important to “Dear Evan Hansen” is the message: that sometimes things will not be ok but that is alright because you are not alone and those feelings of anguish are transient. 

Overall, the film was not nearly as incredible as the musical. The emotional impact the Broadway performance of “Dear Evan Hansen” induces was not present in the film. If you were thinking of seeing this film, I’d argue that maybe you should sit this one out.