Dear Evan Hansen, you are a mess

Abby Mills, Photography Editor

Opening in late 2016, the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” dazzled audiences grossing over $226 million. Yet, the charm of the musical did not translate well to film. “Dear Evan Hansen” is just another mediocre musical that will be forgotten. The stage lights on Broadway hid the many obvious flaws the movie perfectly showcases. 

There is one glaring problem in the film: Ben Platt should not be in this movie. Many fans of the original musical may be happy that Ben Platt reprised his Tony-winning performance, but him being cast as the lead makes the film significantly worse. He looks laughably bad. When he sings in his school, he looks more like a ghost reminiscent of the past instead of a high schooler. Ben Platt, 28, is already naturally too old to play a high schooler but the hair and makeup he wears to look younger are eye-soaring and distracting. Wearing a seven-year-olds-hand-me-downs and caked with yellow makeup that is not blended, makes Ben Platt look more like a melting wax figure than a teenager struggling with mental illness. 

Despite Ben Platts’ ghoulish face, he can sing. Where most movie musicals fail, “Dear Evan Hansen” succeeds. Undoubtedly, the music is the most engaging part of the film, being vibrant, funny, dark, and heartwarming all at the same time. Where the movie fails in plot and visual storytelling, the music shines. The song, “Requiem,” showcases “Dear Evan Hansen” at its prime. It displays the Murphy family’s grieving process after Connor’s suicide. Coincidentally this is one of the only scenes in the movie that the unsettling Evan Hansen, played by Platt, is not in. 

While the music is the best part of this movie; the plot is one of its biggest grievances. The entire plot of this movie is morally murky at best. Evan Hansen lies to a grieving family about his connection to their dead son for his own personal gain. One of the only things that makes Evan Hansen sympathetic to audiences is how young he is. The movie tries to use this excuse to justify Evan’s actions but it fails to work because Evan Hansen looks more like a teacher than a teenager. Evan hurts the Murphy family in an unimaginably cruel way and gets no punishment. Characters facing no repercussions for their actions is a trend in this movie. Alana, played by Amandla Stenberg, creates the Conner project, named in memory of Connor Murphy, to spread mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Yet, she goes against all of her established ideals and publishes what she believes is Connor Murphy’s suicide note to gain online traction. 

Simply put, the movie is boring. It drags on for too long and there truly is nothing interesting about the supporting cast. The entire Murphy family, played by Kaitlyn Dever, Amy Adams, Colton Ryan, and Danny Pino, are the most compelling characters in this movie but are not explored thoroughly enough. The only fleshed-out character in this film is the ghastly Evan Hansen. The conversion from musical to stage has made its charm get lost in translation. The problems in the musical had become clear through the film. With stage lights and constant  singing, it is much easier for audiences to suspend disbelief at older actors and a weak plot. Without question, the most disappointing part of this film is the mental health message buried under the flaws of the film. Past Evan Hansen’s senile face, there is a heartwarming message for teenagers who struggle with mental health issues. This message will be forgotten due to the disappointing film. The movie, “Dear Evan Hansen,” will be lost in time by most as just another bad movie musical.