The true story of struggling theater composer Jonathan Larson
as he attempts to write what he thinks will be his masterpiece.
Tick, Tick...Boom! (2021)
Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Written by Steven Levenson
Starring Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Hudgens, Bradley Whitford, Joshua Henry,
Jonathan Marc Sherman, Judith Light
Based on the stage musical by Jonathan Larson
When it comes to output, Netflix only seems to really put any effort in during awards season. There's nothing inherently wrong with that; I just wish they'd be honest about it. But I digress. Their Fall 2021 output so far has been stellar, with The Harder They Fall exceeding my expectations and Tick, Tick...Boom! really surprising me. This film tells the story of a talented life cut down far too early. Jonathan Larson died at 35 years old after suffering an aortic aneurysm. He never got to see his magnum opus Rent become a Broadway sensation. He wrote Tick, Tick...Boom! as a way to process the fact that his first project, a sci-fi epic musical called Superbia, never took off.
Andrew Garfield excels as Larson, and will no doubt earn his second Oscar nomination next year. He perfectly showcases the best and worst of a starving artist. Artists have to prioritize the work if they ever want to make something of themselves. It's hard to remain likable with that mindset, but Garfield pulls it off. Throughout the film, between the engaging musical numbers, Jonathan keeps losing good friends to the AIDS crisis. The constant loss and the lack of any real action about it would be the driving force behind Rent. But this film is an adaptation of his super meta three-man show about everything that he needed to get off his chest after writing the failure that was Superbia. And it makes sense.
This is a musical that I think most people can connect to. Leave it to Broadway's newest golden boy Lin-Manuel Miranda to adapt this ambitious musical to film as his directorial debut. Miranda was no doubt inspired by Larson, as were thousands of writers, actors, composers, and theater goers. His legacy speaks for itself, but this movie will hopefully inspire more people to explore his work or better yet, create their own.