Still coming down from the high that was “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” I found myself needing to fill my time with more Andrew Garfield content. He is truly wonderful in everything he does and — while this might be an unpopular opinion — is my favorite Spider-Man. There, I said it.
I was rummaging through Netflix trying to find something to watch when I saw that Garfield was starring in a new Netflix film called “Tick, Tick, Boom!” My excitement soon dwindled upon realizing that the movie is a musical.
This might be another unpopular opinion, but I am not a fan of musicals. Entire movies or performances communicated through song and filled with masses of people who just happen to know the words and dance moves to the same tune is just not the experience for me. However, I do like “Hamilton” — albeit only the first half — and saw that “Tick, Tick, Boom!” is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
With the thought of Miranda and Garfield together, I pressed play hoping for the best. Exceeding my expectations, this movie was stellar. Garfield can and will conquer the world. He has played such a broad range of characters, and with no background in theater or vocals, he embodied this role perfectly and his voice is incredible. I liked him so much that I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Spotify.
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The film follows the real-life story of Jonathan Larson, a musical composer most famous for writing the hit musical “Rent.” In his up-and-coming days, Larson is desperately trying to make it big before his 30th birthday, which is quickly approaching.
He feels that once you turn 30, your big shot is over, comparing himself to many others who found success in their “youth.” Battling trials with friends, his love life and his career, the film exudes a feeling of claustrophobia, as he panics with only days left before his birthday to finish his musical “Superbia” and get it picked up by a producer.
The movie opens with charming home-video-like shots of Garfield as Larson that mimic real-life footage of Larson taken by his friends when he was performing “Tick, Tick, Boom!” or working his diner day job.
The entire movie was so emotional and full of passion, which I don’t think could have been conveyed without songs. The opening track, “30/90,” is my favorite. Garfield shows off his voice accompanied by energetic piano, drums and electric guitars. The lyrics follow the idea of the pressures of finding success in your twenties, which is very relatable to me and many others around my age — the pressure to get your life together, find a stable career, have a family and a mortgage before the clock runs out on your last day of being 29.
As Larson juggles his anxiety over his musical, he also has his failing relationship to worry about. His girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) needs more from him and is ready to move on from their cramped New York City apartment in all its early-90s glory, but Larson can’t seem to let go of his dream for her. Her ballad “Come to Your Senses” nearly had me in tears as she beautifully sings about opening up her feelings, but still can’t be seen or heard past Larson’s desperate desire to chase success.
Another tear-inducing theme of this film is the hardships Larson’s friends faced against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Several of Larson’s friends are diagnosed and fight the stigmas and fears of the virus, eventually showing Larson to slow down and count the blessings he has in his friends, because they might not be here tomorrow.
Ultimately, this film was packed with fun and emotional songs that I’m sure many can relate to and will have on repeat. Miranda’s directing and Garfield’s acting had me in awe as they told the story of a beloved man taken too early. Larson died on Jan. 25, 1996 — the night before the first Off-Broadway preview performance of “Rent.” Take it from a non-musical lover: everyone needs to see this.