Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Story By: Steven Levenson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Robin de Jesus, Alexandra Shipp, MJ Rodriguez, Vanessa Hudgens, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Judith Light, Bradley Whitford, & Joshua Henry
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When I saw the title and poster for this film, my initial wondering was, “Is this a rip-off of the Chicago Poetry/Spoken Word slam ‘Louder than a Bomb’…?” Then I thought, “Is this going to have that same “In The Heights/Hamilton/Vivo” vibe that I was starting to get tired of from Lin-Manuel after Vivo?”
Well, it’s not a rip-off, and it’s not the same vibe. AND it caught me by surprise…wasn’t really expecting this story at all.
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Below are my grades for key components in #TickTickBoom that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character (pertaining to arc/development &/or delivery). FYI: My A=95, A- =90, B=85, B-=80…etc. My D- =60 and my F=50
Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start, OR experience is intentionally relevant to the genre and executed well–nothing more), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.
I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.
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Plot & Story: A
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General Public: Interesting Enough
Film Enthusiasts: Worth the Watch
Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Interesting Enough
Biographical Musical Fans: Worth the Watch
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1. “Is there such a thing as running out of time?” “What’s the impact of comparing yourself to others?” “What does it mean to be [age]?” Understand that we all have different journeys…”
The messaging is one of the strongest I’ve seen carried out via story and characters. Not only that, but I resonated with this so heavy, and started to really question many of things I tell myself regarding being in my mid-30s and my expectations for “life.” (This is still a work in progress, but definitely added more water to the seed planted by many of my friends and other conversations regarding the same topic).
Across all acts, you are immersed in the anxiety of our main character procrastinating (tick), in a time crunch for a project (tick), struggling with those close to him moving forward [and moving “on”] while he feels at a stand still (tick), trying to maintain a relationship that he knows he’s distant from (tick), seeking validation and approval (tick), being broke (tick)… and then the end of Act Three provides multiple interpretations of the “Boom” that eventually takes place. Just well done. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
2. And speaking of characters carrying out this messaging, Andrew Garfield was absolutely amazing! My goodness! Especially when comparing his performance to that in The Eyes of Tammy Faye—what a year for him.
If anxiety was a person, Andrew was the embodiment. He WAS the theme. He truly carried this story. His character arc was also executed well. In the midst of him already discombobulated about being ready for this presentation, there’s the juxtaposition with Michael, the situation with Susan, “Elizabeth,” needing to fund his new vision, and the health crisis of the 90s… By Act Three, you see this character on the brink of giving up and trying to make sense all the shyt that has now become a huge collision. 👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾
3. The Sunday Brunch number is possibly my favorite. The production on that scene was just well executed. 🙌🏾🙌🏾
4. That underwater/pool scene was pretty. 👍🏾👍🏾
5. Michael is a pretty man! 😍
6. YES MJ RODRIGUEZ! 🙌🏾
7. Pacing is quite interesting, and might come off odd for some. There’s a choppiness about it, but at the same time it moves seamlessly and actively. There’s a constant and comfortable experience of “hills and valleys” with how the story moves which aligns strategically (and artistically) well with how our main character is feeling—that anxiety.
I think what saved the pacing experience was the beginning of the film making it clear that we were about to listen to the story of a person’s life through him, and 2. The stage setting vs the film settings. 👍🏾👍🏾
8. However, to point #6, her role did come off a little like a typecast… now sure how I feel about that. 👀🥴🤷🏾♂️
9. Tick, Tick…Boom is a biographical story about the most impactful moment of an aspiring writer’s life while trying to make his dream come true—to write a Broadway hit that hasn’t been done before. It’s a story I wasn’t expecting to be as decent as it was. 👍🏾👍🏾
Each act plays an important role in showcasing how life was taking a toll on this man and what he was trying to accomplish—in this case, his relationships to others made up a big part of his life. Act One focuses on the impact of his close relationships and his personal struggle with comparing himself to others as a 29-year old while having the worst case of writer’s block.
Act Two brings about the rehearsals, and continues with the impact of close relationships, especially his love life, during this moment where he feels (at least should feel) most excited and at ease. There’s this emotional, selfish, and overwhelming tug-of-war between his dream vs others. His dream vs wanting to be present/considerate/there for others…
Act Three is very similar to Act Two in terms of it also being a moment where he feels most excited…even proud. However the impact of close relationships take a different turn for a different level of tension, and the impact of “a reality” adds to that tension which brings him/us back to his personal struggle of comparing himself to others based on age.
10. The “Real Life” number… 😩😩🙌🏾
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Overall #TickTickBoom gives Sing – meets Arabella’s storyline in I May Destroy You (minus the assault and battery) – meets a merging of Blanca, Ricky, and Damon’s storyline in Pose (minus the ballroom aspect).
I mean… again, big shout out to Andrew Garfield. What an amazing performance that deserves Oscar buzz for sure—at this point, if I had to put 2 actors against one another for best male performance this year, it would be Frankie Faison and Andrew Garfield.
I also want to shout out the representation of blended sexuality friendships, male vulnerability and emotion in these friendships. Granted, the context is one that many would argue is most common for these types of friend circles, but still… it was nice to see on film.
The only “negative” thing I will say is that I hate it’s only in musical form because we know not everyone will be interested. You know… that will be kinda cool to see—each musical also having it’s non-musical alternative for other audiences, as well as to see different interpretations of the same story in the lens of a different genre… like music and remixes…
SN: Can we just applaud all of the biographical films that have been released since September! My goodness!