Happy New Year! I’m kicking off 2022 by watching and reviewing a bunch of movies from 2021.
Title: tick, tick… BOOM!
Release Date: November 12, 2021
Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Production Company: Imagine Entertainment | 5000 Broadway Productions
tick, tick… BOOM! is a biopic about Jonathan Larson done in the style of a Jonathan Larson musical, and based on Larson’s own “rock monologue” produced on-stage in 1992. Andrew Garfield plays the lead role, cleverly renamed as “Jon,” as an ambitious playwright/composer trying to get his sci-fi musical Superbia produced in 1990, but running into brick walls. The title tick, tick…BOOM! refers to Jon’s upcoming 30th birthday and his feeling that he’s running out time to make it big in musical theater. We in the audience know that the real Larson was running out of time as he would tragically die at the age of 35 just before his hit musical Rent made its Off-Broadway debut.
Garfield’s performance is full of charisma and anxiety, and he does not shy away from portraying how Jon’s monomaniacal focus can make him be quite a douche to his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) and best friend Michael (Robin de Jesús). But he never becomes unsympathetic. In addition to a strong cast, there are a number of cameos by Broadway luminaries, including the original cast of Rent. The music is strong overall, similar in style to the music of Rent, so if you like one you’ll like the other. The song “Why,” where Jon reflects on his childhood memories with Michael while playing piano in an empty Delacorte Theatre slayed me.
I saw a Rent ages and ages ago and really liked it at the time. I knew a bit about Larson, but this movie – even if its partially fictionalized – gives me a better appreciation for him as a person and his work. The director of this movie is Lin-Manuel Miranda, who I’m beginning to realize owes a lot to Larson. It’s all the more sad that Larson never got to enjoy the same kind of success and admiration that Miranda is experiencing now.