Tick, Tick... Boom! (movie)

Started by scenicdesign71, Jun 28, 2019, 06:46 pm

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Nov 11, 2021, 03:42 pm #31 Last Edit: Nov 11, 2021, 04:08 pm by scenicdesign71

The reviews overall have been more respectful than ecstatic -- although, with only about a dozen of the major outlets weighing in so far, the consensus could possibly shift a bit in either direction.  My assumption has always been that musical-theatre geeks would appreciate TTB far more than anyone else; but then, even the starkest single-sentence synopsis would probably elicit that assumption from just about anyone on the planet.

Rotten Tomatoes:  https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tick_tick_boom/reviews?type=top_critics

Metacritic:  https://www.metacritic.com/movie/tick-tickboom!/critic-reviews


Nov 15, 2021, 06:58 pm #32 Last Edit: Nov 21, 2021, 06:59 am by scenicdesign71
I saw the movie tonight, and it's wonderful; I'll definitely be watching again when it comes to Netflix later this week.  LMM's fanboy admiration for Larson shines through every frame, but -- while I still can't even faintly imagine what non-theatre folk will make of it (for better or worse) -- it isn't just a geek-fest; the work that has been done to adapt this material for the screen is impressive.  And thorough... although the story itself hasn't changed, the adapted screenplay has accrued so many layers of historical context and framing, so much new dialogue and narration, and the songlist both expanded and edited with such a sure hand, that the 2001 stage version -- and, I daresay, the 1990 original -- reads as a very loose sketch by comparison.  As the face of 21st-century American musical theatre, Mr. Miranda is distinguished in part by his mania for intricate craftsmanship, which he seems unable to resist bringing to bear even on this story by and about a writer-composer whose own youthful work feels markedly less disciplined and precise, more purely intuitive.

For the record, Bradley Whitford's Sondheim is indeed a delight, finely-observed yet unfussy and natural.  SJS's role here is only slightly bigger than the single disembodied voicemail from the stage version, but Whitford is everything I'd hoped for (above) and more.

Well, almost: it's Judith Light's "Rosa Stevens" who, initially presented as expertly-rendered comic relief, ends up pivoting to the "tough love" moment in her second onscreen appearance (of two) in the film.

And Richard Kind (IMDb now lists his character as "Walter Bloom"), after bloviating briefly as in the trailer, shrinks into an only-slightly-less-brief running gag: after his snarky criticisms of Larson's early work are flatly contradicted by SJS's thoughtful and specific encouragement, Bloom spends the rest of the scene cravenly backpedalling so as not to be caught disagreeing with God, to broadly amusing effect.

Jon's "Sunday" reverie, while waiting tables at the Moondance Diner, has been realized here with such inventive glee that I don't want to spoil a single second of it.  I'll just say that, among the number's other virtues, it showcases LMM exploiting his new medium with such blazing intelligence and generosity that my friend and I (among others in our audience) broke into a flurry of joyful applause at its conclusion -- this for a song that I recall having struck at least one FTCer as inessential and a mite precious -- not to say downright baffling, to non-theater-nerds -- in its original stage context. 
Spoiler: ShowHide
In the film, Lin has energetically embraced that insider-iness to push the song so far over the top that it finally achieves its own sort of profundity, rather than just borrowing (and affectionately ribbing) SITPWG's.  In another sense, he has granted the thirty-year-old Larson what might have been his dearest, most exuberantly goofy wish on an average weekend: a diner-ful of very specific customers for whom, in fantasy, his hated day job could indeed become a fleeting source of serenity and bliss.  And as a crowning touch, he has immortalized both the daydream, its adored subjects and the dreamer himself in a vision of such ecstatic, time-defying loveliness that it renews my appreciation not only of Larson's "Sunday" but of Sondheim's as well.

The other day I described TTB, on the basis of the stage version, to a friend as "emotional, but not a tear-jerker per se".  It turns out I was mistaken; bring a hanky or two.


Nov 18, 2021, 05:46 pm #33 Last Edit: Dec 03, 2021, 09:31 am by scenicdesign71
I'm guessing the NYT's Amy Nicholson is a non-theater person, which might help answer the question of what such folks make of this film -- in this case, disappointingly, not a lot:

[SPOILERS BELOW, I won't bother masking them out individually, but obviously if you want to see the movie "clean", don't read this post until afterward].


Hers is the second review I've read (after Richard Brody's in The New Yorker) that complains about Garfield's voice, which baffles me utterly.  I thought he sounded spectacularly better -- and sold Larson's score with infinitely more justified confidence -- than any of the non-singers cast in leading roles in Hollywood musicals in recent decades -- I'd rank his Jon with Jake Gyllenhaal's George for unexpected and deeply gratifying vocal much-more-than-adequacy -- which leads me to wonder just how these critics thought Garfield should've sounded.  Vocally, my only issue with the movie was its subtle, but still occasionally annoying, use of auto-tune, which has become a fixture on musical soundtracks. It can't be unheard once you've noticed it, and for me, it becomes a distractingly robotic aural presence no matter how conservatively-applied.  My decidedly inexpert sense was that no one's voice (including Garfield's) really needed the pitch-correction -- although, not having heard the un-enhanced original tracks, I could of course be wildly wrong.

I do take particular issue with Nicholson's claim that the movie rides entirely on the foreshadowing of Larson's death.  (I actually could've done without the brief expository-voiceover prologue and coda summarizing his final days and Rent's subsequent success; everything in between those bookends works so well on its own terms as to make the issue of Jon's posthumous success very nearly irrelevant, while the documentary-style framing threatens to flatten the story into Behind The Music hagiography in a way the film is otherwise notably successful in avoiding).  Indeed, on the evidence of the movie itself I'd have said the filmmakers had even less need than the show's 2001 stage adaptors to reflect Jon's future fate back onto the events of five years earlier, precisely because they've succeeded so well at viscerally conveying TTB's present-tense urgency: ostensibly life-altering deadlines, a foundering relationship, a community decimated by disease; given these richly-drawn circumstances, premonitions of an untimely demise to gin up dramatic tension are unnecessary, and wisely eschewed apart from those narrative bookends.

As for Nicholson's complaint about their having neglected the story's universality (if any) in favor of fan service and boho myopia, I'd point to the well-worn but still-apt truism that universality can only emerge from specificity.  And while Garfield manages to make his character's self-absorption as lovable as anyone possibly could, there's a sizable grain of salt there... another reviewer actually suggested that the scene in which Jon shouts over the phone at a ConEd employee about his power having been turned off for non-payment ("You don't understand, I have a workshop!") is somehow not played for comedy -- as though that were possible! -- without apparently apprehending that comedy and sympathy might not be a strict either/or proposition, or that the adaptors' palpable love for their protagonist might nevertheless permit a moment of gimlet-eyed appraisal.  Indulgent, uncritical celebration of Jon's "artistic temperament" isn't required for us to be able to sympathize with the fact that, amid a cascade of crises (many of them self-inflicted), losing electricity at this moment could be the crowning catastrophe that dashes his dreams for good.  (Keyboard-less, he will wind up having to compose "Come To Your Senses" entirely in his head and on paper, to be heard for the first time -- even by Jon himself -- just a few hours later at the reading, in front of "everyone who's anyone" in the American theatre industry).  On the other hand, our attitude needn't swing all the way to pitiless contempt toward the sniveling, entitled artist-manqué in order for us to be able to acknowledge that his desperate harangue to the ConEd call center is undeniably funny (I laughed out loud in the movie theatre), pathetic and more than the tiniest bit off-putting.  That all of these reactions are fully intended by the filmmakers seems well beyond dispute to me.  (Bonus point: with just a small stretch, one could interpret this scene as the speculative genesis of Rent's ostensibly revolutionary title song ("We're not gonna pay!") in an equally impassioned but less glamorous, and far cringe-ier, real-life moment of bohemian squalor).


Dec 14, 2021, 05:41 pm #34 Last Edit: Dec 15, 2021, 01:04 pm by scenicdesign71
From the NYT yesterday:  What did Stephen Sondheim Really Think of 'Rent'?

From the Insta account sondheimletters (in fact, its inaugural post, two weeks ago): To Whom It May Concern

Also, read this and try not to cry:  Sondheim's Secret Cameo in Tick, Tick... Boom!  (Speaking of which, I still want to know what he thought of LMM's film, and more specifically, of Bradley Whitford's portrayal of him).


What if Lin-Manuel Miranda had cast Muppets in Tick, Tick... Boom!?

I no longer long for the old view!


Dec 15, 2021, 01:10 pm #36 Last Edit: Dec 30, 2021, 12:14 pm by scenicdesign71
I love the movie Lin actually made, but now I desperately want to see the Muppet version in-full.  Thanks for posting this, @DiveMilw !


I didn't realize I wanted a Muppets TTB until I saw the trailer.  I mean, I should have known.  A Muppets version of anything would be something I'd want to see.
I no longer long for the old view!