Review: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ film adaptation misses the mark

This mage released by Universal Pictures shows Ben Platt, left, and Julianne Moore in a scene from "Dear Evan Hansen." (Erika Doss/Universal Pictures via AP)

By Tori Templet | Staff Writer

The renowned, Tony Award-winning musical, “Dear Evan Hansen,” starring Ben Platt, made its debut on the big screen Friday.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is the story of an anxious boy, Evan Hansen, and how he faces his anxiety and depression throughout high school. Hansen ends up lying about a friendship with another student, Connor Murphy, who committed suicide because of a note that Hansen had written to himself. While finally feeling seen by others, he finds himself in a pile of lies and has to face the consequences. This coming-of-age musical brings light to mental health awareness and the feeling of isolation.

This musical first appeared on the Broadway stage in December 2016 and won six Tony Awards. Given the traction “Dear Evan Hansen” created, there were high expectations surrounding the movie adaptation as Ben Platt, the original Evan Hansen on Broadway, starred as the main character once again in the movie.

Many hoped that Platt, at the age of 28, could still fit the bill as Hansen, a high school student, but he just missed the mark.

As I tried to engage with the storyline, my love for this musical was distracted. Although Platt provides the unwavering, familiar melodies of the original Broadway soundtrack, he is covered in makeup in an attempt to disguise his real age.

Along with this, the musical just felt unnatural to be adapted onto a screen. As someone who loves musicals, and movie adaptations of musicals, it still felt awkward for Hansen to just burst into song at random moments. There were also cringeworthy moments like when Connor Murphy “hit the woah.”

Putting all that aside, I really do think the songs were beautifully performed, and Platt simply never misses a note. The emotion he brings to each of his performances transcends beyond the screen. I’ll admit, I was crying for most of the second half of the movie.

The rest of the cast brought new and familiar faces like Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever and Nik Dodani.

The soundtrack to the on-screen production provided new songs, “The Anonymous Ones” and “A Little Closer,” into the storyline, and they felt well-fitting, but I was sad to not hear songs like “Anybody Have a Map?” within the movie. Also on the soundtrack are covers of well-known hits from the musical, performed by artists such as Sam Smith, SZA, FINNEAS, Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay and Tori Kelly.

As many people can relate to a character within this story, I will always hold this musical close to my heart. There were some missed marks within the movie adaptation, but it still brings a sense of familiarity and emotion that can never be overshadowed.