Dear Evan Hansen (2021)

Dear Evan Hansen (2021) Cover

Dear Evan Hansen is another adaptation of a broadway musical that features a heartfelt message, likable characters, and pretty music that should prove to be a fair family film most will be moved by despite some silly implausibilities regarding the narrative. If you can have a suspension of disbelief and run with the premise the story presents there’s moments to admire and a good time to be had.

Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) is a socially awkward high school senior whose therapist has given Hansen the therapeutic assignment of writing letters to himself to encourage himself throughout his day. Hansen has a crush on fellow classmate Zoe Murphy (Katelyn Dever) but she hardly seems to notice Hansen until one day her outcast brother Connor (Colton Ryan), screams at Evan simply because he thinks Evan is laughing at him being bullied by other classmates. Connor takes one of Evan’s letters that Evan does not want anyone else to see. The events that end up unfolding change the course of Evan’s life.

The events that “end up unfolding” mentioned in the previous paragraph are a bit dramatic (entertainingly so) but a bit hard to swallow. Hansen, with good intentions, decides to tell Conor’s family and eventually the general public a big twisted lie and very convincingly so. It is hard to think that someone who struggles with words could articulately lie about the matters that he does. Nonetheless, if you’re able to get past this setup, the film does have a great well-intentioned message and drama to get wrapped up in. 

The music is sure to be enjoyed by those who like broadway pop music. “Waving through a Window,” the introductory song that sets the tone for how Evan feels against the world, is easily the film’s most successful tune. Other memorable musical sequences include, “Sincerely, Me” where Evan and his “family friend” Jared (Nik Dodani) are writing and revising letters where each edit they make is acted out, which proves to be quite comedic! Another sequence I enjoyed was “Requiem” which sheds light on Connor’s family’s emotions .

Conor’s parents (Amy Adams and Danny Pino) are written extremely wooden and hollow. Without giving away spoilers, the decisions they make feel systematic whereas the audience may feel as if they should be exuding more emotion with all of the life circumstances they have going on around them, which is not fully exhibited until the end of the third act. This was another facet of the film that did not “ring true” or feel natural. 

However, there are a lot of characters that are compelling. Katelyn Dever proves herself to be interesting to watch- she’s beautiful, well-articulated in her delivery, and portrays an overlooked teenager so well. I thought Ben Platt nailed his portrayal of a teen struggling with social anxiety, despite complaints about his age (29) and accusations of Nepotism, as Platt’s father produced the film. I think this complaint is not valid, as Platt studied this role for years for the broadway, showing he had a history (outside of his father and this film) with the role. As far as his age goes, no one in this film is actually in high school. Nik Dodani is 27 and Katelyn Dever is 24. Platt performs incredibly well, is a talented singer, and truly felt like that kid you remember from high school who struggled to communicate and build relationships with others.

Final Verdict:Features a heartfelt message, likable characters, and pretty music that all prove to be a family film most will be moved by despite implausibilities regarding the narrative.