REVIEW: Terrible directing choices sink ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ movie


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As brilliant as the original stage production of “Dear Evan Hansen” was, it didn’t translate well to the silver screen due to questionable directing decisions.

A Tony Award-winning musical with great renown both in popularity and in business seems like a perfect success story for Hollywood. However, Hollywood knew “Dear Evan Hansen” was a moneymaker … at least on paper. But shortly after its release on Sept. 24, the movie quickly became popular to mock online, from poor directing choices to the removal of intensely popular songs. The movie left fans who were anticipating an accurate depiction of a beloved musical utterly disappointed. And it fully deserves this reputation due to questionable casting and song choices around the central character, Evan Hansen.

Ben Platt, who had previously played Evan Hansen on Broadway in 2016, reprised his role for the silver screen. At the time of the live show, he was a believable teenager, but five years later it is more difficult for fans to view him in that light. The makeup team clearly tried to make him seem younger, however, they only succeeded in making him look old and creepy, rather than like a socially awkward teenager. This destroyed the likeability of the character, making him seem more like a strange adult with no remorse for his actions, rather than an anxious kid who got in too deep.

When they failed to include the popular musical numbers “Anybody Have a Map” and “Good for You” within the soundtrack, many fans were disappointed. These are important songs within the musical that establish Hedi Hansen, Evan’s mom, as a pivotal character within the film. Not using the song “Good For You” left damage beyond character development. The choice of removing this song refuses to force Evan to acknowledge his actions which had led him down a dangerous road, as well as the people he has hurt along the way. 

The director refuses to see Evan as anything other than the perfect protagonist when in reality, he is very flawed. The whole point of the musical was to showcase a less-than-perfect character that can still be somewhat likable because viewers understand their mistake. 

Although this is a movie with many flaws, it does open up doors to make movie musicals more mainstream, and hopefully, allows well-produced movie musicals to come front and center and take the spotlight. And even though the cast is star-studded, with brilliant casting choices of Amy Adams as Hedi Hansen and Amandla Stenburg as Alana, the poor choices of the director and others for the movie greatly outweigh the positives.